CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia politicians at the local and national level and of both parties were quick to decry a new plan to curb carbon emissions and promote clean energy presented Tuesday by President Barack Obama.
The West Virginia Coal Association and United Mine Workers also decried the president's plan.
In a highly-anticipated speech from the campus of Georgetown University, Obama presented a three-step plan to cut carbon emissions, prepare the country for climate change and encourage other countries to follow suit in trimming emissions.
"Power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air for free. That's not right, it's not safe, and it needs to stop," Obama said.
Before and during the speech, several West Virginia politicians blasted the president's plan. Disputing the president's actions has been a typical plan of action for both Republicans and Democrats at all levels in West Virginia politics; Obama is deeply unpopular in the state.
An article in Tuesday's edition of the New York Times quoted Daniel Schrag, head of Harvard University's Center for the environment and adviser to the Obama administration on climate issues. Schrag said Obama needs to start shutting down "conventional coal plants."
"Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they're having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what's needed," Schrag told the Times.
U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., was quick to cite those statements as proof the administration does no understand West Virginia or its economy.
"By shutting down the production of coal, not only will the president make it impossible for America to become energy independent but he could deliver an unrecoverable blow to coal-rich states like West Virginia," Capito said in a statement delivered before the speech.
The congresswoman also issued a statement after the speech, calling the plan part of the president's "tyrannical efforts to bankrupt the coal industry."
The speech is proof the president is waging a war on coal, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said in a press release issued after the speech. Although he said the government should invest in technology to burn coal cleanly -- a part of Obama's plan -- Manchin disagreed with the bulk of the president's proposal.
"Removing coal from our energy mix will have disastrous consequences for our recovering economy," Manchin said in the release. "These policies punish American businesses by putting them at a competitive disadvantage with our global competitors."
The science behind climate change is real, said U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. Obama's speech Tuesday lacked details about changes to the coal mining industry that could make all the difference for West Virginians, he said."We need more from the President to assure our miners and working families they're part of this plan," Rockefeller said in a news release. "To begin with, we need to see a timeline, a cost estimate and to understand how communities that have relied on coal are going to be supported once these proposals take effect."
During the speech U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., sent out a release that called the president's plan "misguided, misinformed and untenable."
"Locking away the fuels that power our nation behind ideologically imposed barriers will drive up costs for nearly every business and manner of industrial activity while driving jobs overseas," Rahall said in the release.
U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., took to Twitter to blast the president's speech. Using the "war on coal" rhetoric, he accused the president of wanting to kill jobs.
Nick Casey, considered the leading Democratic contender for the 2nd Congressional district seat, also said the president's plan "goes too far." He said Congress, not the EPA, should set climate and energy policy.
Locally, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey was the only state-level politician to immediately issue a statement about the speech. A Republican who campaigned on the promise of "fighting federal overreach," Morrisey had harsh words for the president's plan.
"Here in West Virginia, we plan to review every word of every line of every page of these devastating proposals to develop ideas for how West Virginia can fight back," Morrisey said in an emailed statement.