When President Barack Obama pledged in 2008 to make coal-fired power plants so expensive no one could afford to build them, he was careful to leave out part of the equation in what he said.
Even now, the cost to tens of millions of Americans of his war on coal is carefully avoided.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson has revealed what she and Obama no doubt hope will be the end game against coal. New EPA regulations will make it virtually impossible to build coal-fired power plants without prohibitively expensive pollution control equipment. At the same time, Obama's Department of Energy is slashing funds to develop that very technology.
A few members of Congress, including all three representatives from this area of West Virginia and Ohio, have fought hard to curb the EPA's assault against coal. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, also have done their best to stop the agency.
But Manchin is among the few Democrat lawmakers willing to argue with their party's president. Most-and some Republicans-have not been willing to fight for their constituents' best interests.
Perhaps a look into a future without much electricity generated by coal will help change their minds.
About 42 percent of the power generated in the United States comes from coal. Americans fortunate enough to have access to it pay relatively low rates. Here in West Virginia, where 97 percent of our electricity comes from coal, residential consumers paid an average of 9.49 cents per kilowatt hour of power in January, according to government analysts.
California has an energy mix much more to Obama's liking. There, just 1 percent of the power comes from coal-fired plants. Gas is used for 52 percent, hydroelectric plants for 17 percent, nuclear for 16 percent-and "renewables" for 14 percent.
In January, the average price of electricity for homes in California was 15.5 cents per kilowatt hour-more than half again as much as West Virginia residents pay. That, remember, was at a time when natural gas prices were at near-record lows.
The bottom line is that Obama's strategy would have many Americans-and struggling U.S. businesses-pay at least 50 percent more for electricity. For homeowners, the increase would be more than $1,000 a year.
Is that what most members of Congress want?
Apparently so, to judge by their failure to rein in the EPA.