Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia slammed President Barack Obama’s climate change agenda on Tuesday, calling it “irresponsible” and saying it would harm coal-producing states like the one he represents on Capitol Hill.
“We’re looking for an all-energy policy that secures our nation, makes us less dependent on foreign oil or foreign energy — and we can do that, but we’ve got to use everything we have in balance with the environment and the economy,” Manchin told Bret Baier on Fox News. “That’s all we’ve ever said.”
In a speech at Georgetown University, Obama proposed limiting carbon pollution from all U.S. power plants and signaled that he would block TransCanada Corp.'s proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada if it increased greenhouse gas emissions.
The administration’s long process of studying whether to approve the Keystone pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada through the Midwest to refineries in Texas, has been attacked by business groups and Republican lawmakers.
Manchin has attacked Obama’s energy-reform proposals over the years, including those that would have capped carbon emissions, an expensive proposition for coal-fired power plants.
He told Baier that eight billion tons of coal is being burned every year all over the world.
“If they believe that if we stop burning coal in America completely — and that’s one billion tons a year, one-eighth of the consumption of the world — that we’re going to clean up the environment,” Manchin said. “They still believe that the world’s still flat.”
He added that Obama’s plans would cut jobs, even as the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicted that as much as 37 percent of American households would still be dependent on coal as an energy source through 2040.
“Why do you want to shoot yourself in both feet and then try to run the marathon tomorrow?” Manchin asked.
The Obama agenda, would be “devastating, not to just West Virginia — all the coal states — but, basically, to the economy of the United States of America,” he added. “He’s declaring war, truly, on American jobs. We’re just asking for balance, a level playing field.”
The proposals are “asking us to meet standards that are unobtainable because the design, the technology has not yet been perfected — and we’re supposed to hit a moving target?
“We have coal plants today and utility companies that would retrofit if they were allowed to, but they have to go to a standard that’s not even obtainable in today’s market,” Manchin added. “So, you know what they do? They stay right where they are and do nothing.”
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