W.Va. lawmaker tethered to EPA climate rule he plans to fight

Anne Wernikoff

The American Energy Alliance is linking Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) to President Obama's proposal limiting carbon emissions from existing power plants, despite the congressman's intention to fight the anti-pollution rules.

The conservative grassroots group is spending $140,000 on TV ads that blame Rahall for not protecting West Virginia from the new standards, which could force coal plants to close in the state.

ADVERTISEMENT
"When coal takes a hit, we all feel it in West Virginia," the 30-second ad states. "President Obama isn't just waging a war on coal, he's waging a war on West Virginia."

The ads slamming Rahall, who faces a stiff reelection battle this year, begin airing Wednesday and will run for three weeks in the state.

"Congressman Nick Rahall had the opportunity to protect West Virginia from harmful EPA regulations, instead Rahall stood with Obama, jeopardizing our way of life," it adds.

The energy alliance points to a vote by Rahall last year against a bill that would have required a vote by Congress to approve all major regulations, including ones like limits on carbon dioxide from coal plants.

West Virginia is heavily reliant on coal for its electricity production. But the administration is seeking to curb carbon pollution from the nation's fleet of coal-fired power plants, which, along with natural gas, account for roughly 40 percent of emissions coming from the power sector.

"President Obama's war on coal is really a war on West Virginia families, and Nick Rahall simply has not done enough to protect West Virginia from Washington's anti-coal regulations," said Tom Pyle, president of the energy alliance.

While Republicans and the conservative energy group have long tied Rahall to the president's most ambitious climate policies, Rahall has come out in strong opposition to them.

After Monday's proposal of the new standards, Rahall and fellow West Virginia Rep. David McKinley (R) announced plans for legislation that would block the rules from taking effect.