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Obama hangs W.Va. Dems out to dry

ONE of the debates going on in Washington is whether there is a war on coal.

Last week, just ahead of President Obama's speech announcing his initiatives on global warming, an administration adviser dropped the "w" word.

The New York Times reported that Harvard geochemist Daniel Schrag said:

"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."

That prompted a denial this week from Energy Secretary Ernest Moinz. He told Reuters that coal will remain part of the energy mix.

"I don't believe it is a 'war on coal,' " Moinz said.

The semantic debate is pointless. It's like arguing whether Vietnam was a war or a conflict.

No, it was never officially declared, but try telling the soldiers who served that they didn't fight in a war.

Since President Obama took office there has been a consistent and concerted effort to remove coal from the energy mix.

The heavy regulatory hand of the Environmental Protection Agency has made it more difficult and time consuming to get permits, while the agency has moved steadily toward carbon emission standards that will make it difficult, if not impossible, to build a coal-burning power plant in the future.

The president gave even more specific marching orders to the EPA last week that environmentalists believe will send domestic coal burning on a glide path toward extinction.

The environmental community has always held Obama to account on his famous campaign pledge to bankrupt utilities that want to stick with coal in the future, so now he's making good.

And why not? There's no political risk to him.

So what if guys like Democrats Sen. Joe Manchin and Congressman Nick Rahall of West Virginia get hung out to dry?

Manchin should be particularly miffed.

The senator has taken enormous heat from his home state for his lead role in a gun control measure that would have helped Obama — only to have the president drop the coal industry down an abandoned mine shaft.

Conservative political commentator Chris Stirewalt of Fox News says Obama's plan is for America to take the moral high ground on climate change for the rest of the world to follow.

But as Stirewalt points out, it doesn't seem to matter that Americans will end up paying more for their energy while the rest of the world is buying and burning coal at a record pace.

By the time energy prices rise and we realize that the world's carbon footprint is little changed by America's green lean, Obama will be long gone.

"As it turns out, the world doesn't much care about America's footprint," Stirewalt writes.

"For most of the planet's 7 billion residents, the question is how they are living, not what the United States is emitting."

No military metaphor is necessary to understand the direction we're headed.

Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.


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