After bipartisan rebuff, Manchin abandons private legislative deal to help fossil fuel projects
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has decided to go against his own better judgment and do what’s best for the country by helping the coal industry in his home state of West Virginia.
Following the state’s rejection of legislation that would have banned mountaintop removal coal mining on public land, Manchin helped draft and file a proposed federal rule that allows private companies to strip mine public land in Appalachia.
The West Virginia coal industry has been fighting for years to get the federal rule approved, fearing it would kill the state’s lucrative coal industry. Now, that fight is over.
Manchin says he’s “heartbroken” that the state rejected his proposal in favor of a federal rule “that is just going to turn West Virginia into a mining-free zone and ruin our state.”
Manchin is likely to have the federal proposal’s fate sealed after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama are able to complete an economic stimulus package in the coming days. The federal bill is expected to help West Virginia get its share of public lands.
Manchin said today, during an interview with the Charleston Gazette-Mail, he believes the rule is a necessary measure to end the “tremendous damage” mining has done to the area.
“This is a coal country. We’re the most impacted coal country. We’re the hardest hit by this industry,” Manchin said. “I don’t think anybody wants to destroy our way of life here. I mean, the mining has killed our way of life. It’s destroyed our culture, it’s destroyed our way of life. It’s destroyed our economy.”
“I just can’t believe that the state would say no to this bill, and if we don’t take this now we’re going to lose it,” Manchin added. “And we’re not going to lose any more coal jobs here.”
Under the proposed federal rule, private mining companies operating on public