SURE, President Barack Obama's Environmental Protection Agency administrator has recently disclaimed a "war on coal." But actions speak louder than words.
Take, for example, the recent U.S. EPA regulation that puts such strict limits on coal-fired power plants that no commercially-available technology could possibly meet them.
It doesn't technically outlaw new coal-fired plants, but that will be its obvious effect.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin has criticized this unprecedented attempt to "force an industry to do something that is technologically impossible," warning that the new regulations would "have devastating impacts to the coal industry and our economy" and joining a Senate resolution protesting the regulation.
But the key vote to push back on the president's attacks on the coal industry won't be on an environmental law. It will be about judges.
The new EPA regulations will almost certainly be challenged in the courts.
Seventeen Attorneys General, including West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, have already alerted the EPA that what it is attempting to do is illegal.
The regulations go beyond the regulatory actions authorized by the Clean Air Act, and circumvent our Constitution's system of checks and balances because they are so harsh they would never have been legislated outright by members of Congress.
A key actor in this fight is the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — the court that hears challenges to administrative agencies like the EPA.
That court in recent years has held the line against several power grabs by the Obama administration, including in the environmental arena.
Now, President Obama is trying to change the game.
Although the D.C. Circuit is currently evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, the president has nominated three new judges in an effort to tilt the scales of justice in his favor.
President Obama wants nothing more than to obscure what's at stake in the battle over the D.C. Circuit, and argue that his appointments are just filling empty seats on that court.