During his successful run for Senate, Manchin campaigned using a television ad in which he shot at a copy of greenhouse gas legislation, bragging that he would "take dead aim" at such bills. Manchin has said the nation does not need "an energy policy that is crafted by bureaucrats, overregulated by the EPA, and ignores critical domestic resources by choosing winners and losers."
Coal is considered the nation's largest source of global-warming pollution, representing a third of U.S. greenhouse emissions, equal to the combined output of all cars, trucks, buses, trains and boats. Most scientists recommend the nation swiftly cut carbon dioxide emissions, reducing them by about 80 percent below 2000 levels by mid-century to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
While coal industry supporters and many scientists believe that carbon capture and storage technology, or CCS, can be a part of the solution, there are major questions about the cost, scale and feasibility of equipment that would be need to be installed on power plants around the world. And many other experts caution that without mandated cuts in greenhouse emissions, industry is unlikely to widely install expensive CCS equipment.
The Obama administration EPA has been moving toward regulating greenhouse gases under a July 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that mandated action if the agency's scientists concluded those emissions were endangering public health and welfare.
Late last year, EPA announced it would propose rules on power plants by July 2011 and oil refineries by December 2011. The rules would be finalized by May 2012 and November 2012, respectively. Actual requirements for reducing emissions would likely be phased in over time after that.
Over the last six months, Rockefeller has given several major speeches in which he said he accepts the scientific consensus about global warming, but simply believes the coal industry needs more time to adapt. But last June, Rockefeller voted with a Republican measure that sought to overturn EPA's scientific finding that greenhouse gases were a danger to public health and welfare.
"I believe in 'clean coal'," Rockefeller said Wednesday. "Some people say, 'coal', but I like it much better if they say, 'clean coal'. It can be clean. The technology is there. More is on the way."
As he has done previously, Rockefeller touted the installation of CCS equipment on an American Electric Power plant in Mason County, but did not mention that it's a pilot project that captures just a small fraction of the facility's carbon dioxide emissions.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.