Criticism of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., for not supporting a measure to prevent coal ash from being declared a hazarous substance clearly has apparently touched a nerve with the senator.
U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., had succeeded in convincing the House of Representatives to adopt an amendment to a major transportation bill also pending in the Senate. McKinley's amendment would force the Environmental Protection Agency to back away from a plan to regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste. It would substitute a plan for more scientific limits on coal ash. Coal ash is often used as a substitute ingredient in material, including concrete to build highways. McKinely said not allowing coal ash to be used will increase the cost of highway construction and cost jobs.
But Rockefeller has said the amendment does not belong in the transportation bill. After Rockefeller's action, McKinley sharply criticized the senator for that, suggesting Rockefeller is flip-flopping from his own concern, expressed last year, about the EPA plan.
On Wednesday, a nettled Rockefeller released a statement accusing McKinley of being misleading. "I do not and have never supported federal efforts to declare coal ash as a hazardous waste," the senator insisted.
He reiterated, however, that the McKinley amendment and two other environmental provisions were "in order to create controversy, not to solve problems. ... Pushing this or any other controversial provision will bring down a highway bill that West Virginia workers desperately need."
"We need roads and bridges and the jobs that go with them in our state, not political games," Rockefeller added.
But the proposed coal ash restrictions are part of President Barack Obama's war on coal - a package of some of the most outrageous political games ever played in Washington.
Obama played games with the Senate itself, when he asked for its approval of his "cap and trade" bill to cripple the coal industry. When the Senate rejected the measure, Obama had the EPA go ahead with its own proposal - in effect rejecting the will of the people as expressed through their senators.
Perhaps the biggest political game of all is Obama's campaign of making coal more expensive - while lavishing billions of dollars on "alternative" energy companies.
Indeed, political games are being employed in an attempt to wreck the coal industry - and the West Virginia economy. If Obama is not curbed, the only new highways West Virginia will need will be to take unemployed workers out of state.
Surely Rockefeller understands all that. And unless he has decided to march in lockstep with Obama, the EPA and Senate liberals in their war on coal, he owes it to his constituents to help win approval of the McKinley amendment in the Senate.