Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSenate Democrats dig in as shutdown approaches Overnight Energy: Fight over miners' benefits risks shutdown | Flint aid crosses finish line in House Overnight Healthcare: Burwell huddles with Dems on fighting ObamaCare repeal MORE (D-W.Va.) blasted President Obama's proposals to address climate change, saying new regulations on power plants would unfairly burden the coal industry.
“The regulations the President wants to force on coal are not feasible. And if it’s not feasible, it’s not reasonable,” Manchin said in a statement.
The Democratic senator’s comments highlight the tough — and bipartisan — resistance facing the White House's new energy proposals.
Manchin’s comments echoed remarks made by a member of a White House panel of outside science advisers, who told The New York Times on Monday that the president should use Tuesday’s climate speech to launch a “war on coal.”
“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,” Harvard geochemist Daniel P. Schrag told the Times.
Republicans have also seized on the remark, saying the president's energy plan — unveiled Tuesday at Georgetown University — would cause energy bills to spike and increase unemployment among the middle class.
The centerpiece of the president's climate change plan is a timeline for setting new environmental regulations that will limit how much carbon pollution can be emitted from both new and existing power plants.
The White House is directing the Environmental Protection Agency to write draft rules on carbon emissions from existing power plants within the next year, with the expectation they will be completed by June 2015.
The president's plan also includes a new round of fuel economy standards for heavy trucks, an expanded Interior Department commitment to develop renewable energy on federal lands, making billions of dollars of Energy Department loan guarantees available for low-emission coal projects, enhanced energy efficiency efforts and other steps.
"As a president, as a father and as an American, I’m here to say, ‘We need to act,’ ” Obama said.
But Manchin, hailing from coal-heavy West Virginia, said the president's plan "will have disastrous consequences for our recovering economy."
"These policies punish American businesses by putting them at a competitive disadvantage with our global competitors," Manchin said. "And those competitors burn seven-eighths of the world’s coal, and they’re not going to stop using coal any time soon."
In his remarks, the president looked to preempt criticism of his regulatory efforts, saying that opponents of environmental regulation had made the same arguments before.
“Every time, they've been wrong,” Obama said.
“The problem with all these tired excuses for inaction is it shows a fundamental lack of faith in American businesses and American ingenuity,” the president continued, saying Americans did not have to “choose between the health of our children and the health of our economy.”