By Laura Barron-Lopez - 10/29/13 04:52 PM EDT
The Obama administration's alleged "war on coal" is set to become a prime target for Republicans during the 2014 election cycle.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said the administration's carbon pollution regulations for power plants and attacks on the coal industry would "absolutely" be a key issue in the 2014 elections.
"I think it will be big in the West Virginia election with the Senate seat there," Paul told The Hill during a coal industry-sponsored rally at the Capitol on Tuesday.
Paul targeted Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D), who decided earlier this year not to seek reelection in 2014.
"Rockefeller hasn't represented West Virginia for quite awhile and I think that West Virginia in all likelihood is going to elect somebody that will represent their coal interests better."
Rockefeller has made it no secret that he supports the Environmental Protection Agency's regulations.
"These rules will only work if we act now to strengthen our investment in clean coal technology and to advance public-private partnerships more seriously than ever. West Virginia and America have overcome far greater technological obstacles than this one, and I refuse to believe we can't do it again,” Rockefeller said in a statement in September.
Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) also said Tuesday that the GOP would push to make people aware of the consequences of the new regulations that drive a hard line on carbon pollution.
"We want to burn coal but I know we have to burn it cleaner, more efficiently and we can do that," McKinley said. "It will very definitely be on everyone's agenda come 2014."
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), one of the few Democrats to speak at the rally, apologized for the dysfunction in Washington.
"There shouldn't be a man woman or child who shouldn't say a prayer for a coal miner," Manchin said.
When asked if he is worried that members of his party would be edged out in 2014, Manchin repeated over-and-over, "I just want reasonable people to work with."