According to today’s editorial in the Intelligencer, there is no problem with coal ash:
Doing so would have flown in the face of research indicating coal ash is not a hazardous material. Even the EPA itself, in 1993, 2000 and last December, has reached that conclusion.
Sorry, not classifying it as "hazardous" doesn’t mean that it is safe. And what EPA ruled in December did not rule out regulation of coal ash.
Instead, coal ash will be regulated similarly to household garbage. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy assured reporters on Friday that designating coal ash as solid waste, rather than hazardous waste, would be sufficient to prevent catastrophic spills of coal ash from the ponds the substance is often stored in, and to prevent it from leaching into groundwater, as it has in the past.
I last covered this topic at the end of October when I posted this video from Earth Justice. At the time I said:
Earth Justice recently released this ten minute video about the incredible damage the dumping of coal ash into the environment is doing to the most northern tip of the West Virginia Panhandle. The video interviews two families from West Virginia and Pennsylvania about what is happening there. As Theresa in the video says: "It’s very disturbing."
If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a look.
The editorial also claims that:
U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., led the fight against the EPA's coal ash proposal. In one of the few victories against Obama's anti-coal initiative, McKinley forced the EPA to back away from its proposal.
The Intelligencer argued this a couple of months ago in an editorial supporting McKinley for Congress. At the time, I could find no support for their assertion. (I also asked readers to contact me if they knew what McKinley had supposedly done.) Is this part of a McKinley PR effort? I still can’t find anything that says it was a second-term representative, David McKinley that forced the EPA to back away. Again, contact me if you know what they are talking about.
This story was broken one month ago tomorrow by the Charleston Gazette. Since then, the Gazette has updated the story a couple of times. Two weeks ago, a number of national online sites started covering the story. Today the Intelligencer finally did its first story on the controversy: "Group to Get Say on Climate."The Intelligencer’s coverage of the story features West Virginia Science Teachers Association Libby Strong whose organization, for the last month, has been very vocal about the proposed changes.
And despite a number of quotes from Strong, the article also includes this paragraph:
According to published reports, state Board of Education member L. Wade Linger Jr. said human-driven climate change "isn't a foregone conclusion," and he believed the board's changes added balance to the curriculum. Board President Gayle Manchin - wife of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. - has denied any political motivation by the board in making those changes.
Right! And the wife of Senator Manchin would never be politically motivated. Of course the Intelligencer article never mentions any of the Linger or, for that matter, fellow board member Tom Campbell’s quotes which started the controversy and suggest just the opposite:
When asked why climate change was the particular "unproven science" that he and Linger were concerned about, Campbell responded that "West Virginia coal in particular has been taking on unfair negativity from certain groups." He also noted the coal industry provides much money to the state’s education system.
"I would prefer that the outlook should be ‘How do we mine it more safely and burn it more cleanly?" Campbell said. "But I think some people just want to do away with it completely."
The Intelligencer – a month late and yet, still biased.
I’m surprised that this didn’t make Fox News
From the Sunday Charleston Gazette:
A Wyoming County school received angry phone calls after photos surfaced of posters from a multicultural lesson on the Middle East and Islam, but the criticism wasn’t from parents.
Westside High School Principal Robin Hall said she received several calls from people in Florida, Arizona and New York who were upset that the school was teaching about Islam and accused teachers of indoctrinating students.
Apparently there was a coal miner’s retraining workshop at the school on King Day. Shaun Adkins, who was not at the workshop, later took a video of what was an earlier multicultural unit on Islam and then posted it on Facebook.
Adkins said he is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and served in the Persian Gulf War. He was stationed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain during that time.
"I don’t think all Muslims are bad. I just think that they’ve become irrelevant and their religion has been taken over by this rogue element," Adkins said of the difference between Islamic extremists and those who are not.
Adkins said he believes there is a difference between culture and religion, and that Islam falls under the latter. He added that he has a problem with schools teaching about the Islamic faith and not Christianity.
According to the article, the bulletin board about the Muslim religion has been taken down and replaced by posters about nutrition and the basketball season.
Yes, we know
From this morning's Intelligencer:
A Message To Our Readers
Due to a reporter's error, Cardinal Timothy Dolan was misidentified in the Sunday News-Register's story on his visit to Wheeling, where he presided over Saturday's Red Mass at the invitation of the Most Rev. Michael Bransfield.
Being accurate in our reporting is something we take very seriously. We apologize for the error.
I’m wondering if he’s going to Disneyland after the Super Bowl
From our newly-elected state senator via the morning Intelligencer:
Sen. Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, introduced a bill Friday that calls for allowing religious exemptions for vaccines for children entering school in West Virginia, a proposal local public health officials are against.
Ferns said he introduced SB 286 on the Senate floor, but noted it likely would go through "substantive changes" before being put through the committee process. The bill also calls for doing away with an interpretive rule that gave county health officers the responsibility to accept or deny a person's request for a vaccine exemption for their child.
The reporter, Shelley Hanson, did something unusual for an Intelligencer reporter – she gave considerable space to another point of view, in this case by interviewing Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health Chairman Dr. John Holloway who explained why the rules should not be changed.
Why did Ferns make this his first sponsored bill? Did he not take any science courses in getting his two degrees in physical therapy? (a scary thought) And I’ll bet West Liberty University’s science department is proud of him after the university created the Ryan Ferns Room in their new science building after a large donation from Ferns.
Murray Energy on the front page (again)
I have joked in the past that the real owners of Ogden Newspapers are the coal companies. Whatever the coal companies do gets covered regardless of whether its news or not and seldom is another point of view mentioned.
For example, Bob Murray of Murray Energy is on the front page of one of our local "newspapers" at least once a month even if it’s for giving the same anti-EPA, anti-Obama speech he gave the previous month. Today’s Intelligencer tells us that there will be no mining under Barkcamp State Park in Ohio because Murray Energy withdrew its application. (Even though he’s not quoted in the article, there is still a picture of Murray on the front page.) They withdrew it because the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said that it would take 4 to 6 months to review all aspects of the application.
Could there be some possible objections to this mining from local residents? Shouldn’t we hear what the citizens think about mining under a state park? The article doesn’t suggest any reason to not grant Murray his wishes. I don’t live in Ohio but I’m still glad that they are looking at all aspects before allowing the company to proceed.
We were waist deep in the Big Muddy,
And the big fool said to push on.
--- Pete Seeger, 1967
From the Associated Press via the Intelligencer:
CHARLESTON (AP) - The West Virginia House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed a repeal of an energy portfolio Thursday, which is poised to become the first bill the newly-minted GOP Legislature sends to Democrat Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
The House voted 95-4 Thursday to repeal the Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. House Republicans and some Democrats called it a free-market move that helps the struggling Central Appalachian coal industry.
Other Democrats labeled the repeal a political stunt.
It sure looks like a stunt. The law was passed with bipartisan support during the Manchin Administration:
Some of the biggest stakeholders have said the law doesn't affect them, whether it exists or not. The coal and power industries helped write it in the first place.
So why was it repealed?
Delegate Tim Manchin, D-Marion, noted that proponents have been telling West Virginians that repealing the act will lower electricity rates and create coal jobs, saying of constituents, "They’ve been promised they’re going to receive these benefits from the repeal of this act."
However, he noted that House leadership blocked a request for an economic impact study that would have been able to verify if those promises were being kept. Senate leadership also turned down a similar study request for the Senate’s version of the bill.
(We don’t need no stinkin’ studies – trust us, it’ll lower rates and create jobs!)
More to the point:
Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, said the bill relies on "myths" about job creation, elimination of "cap-and-trade" mandates, and lower electricity rates.
"In the last election, these myths were used as a club," said Fleischauer, who voted against the bill.
Let’s see, the legislature repealed a law that was originally backed by the coal industry and the electric companies and passed with bipartisan support, to prove how much they love coal, coal miners, and coal-generated electricity. So who are the winners in all of this? First, the politicians who can now say that there first legislative act was to attack the "war on coal." Additionally, the AP suggests another Republican benefit – it can be used against Manchin in the next election:
The GOP is also trying use the law against Manchin, since he may run for governor again. Last election, right-leaning groups criticized state candidates for the law, though many Republicans also voted for it.
A couple of other groups should also be happy with the repeal – from sustainablebusiness.com:
Congratulations, ALEC and Koch Brothers - your hard work is starting to pay off.
West Virginia is the first state to completely repeal its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) - its incentives for renewable energy. . . .
ALEC and Americans for Prosperity are working hard across the states to eliminate support for renewable energy. Last year, Ohio voted to freeze its RPS , which has already resulted in wind and solar companies leaving the state.
Push on, Republicans, push on!
Supporters of the Keystone Pipeline, including Joe Manchin and our local "newspapers," have argued that building the pipeline is necessary for our energy independence. Interestingly, Joe and the Republican Party had a chance to demonstrate their support for that argument yesterday in the Senate. They failed miserably.
As David Nir at Daily Kos wrote earlier today:
Democratic Sen. Ed Markey had a good idea: Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline keep talking about how it'll improve America's energy security, so why not set that claim in stone? Markey proposed an amendment to the current Keystone legislation pending in the Senate that would require oil transported through the pipeline to remain in the United States. It only makes sense, right?
Guess who voted against the amendment? Every Senate Republican plus three Democrats:
Markey's amendment is good, populist politics, which is why senators from red states like Jon Tester (Montana), Joe Donnelly (Indiana), and Claire McCaskill (Missouri) all supported it. If anything, it's the kind of legislation you'd be happy to see your opponent oppose, since you can easily frame a vote against the amendment as a vote against U.S. interests.
But now Manchin, Warner, and Heitkamp are not only on the wrong side of this issue, they also look like phonies. And no voter likes a phony.
(Note to Kos staff – it’s embarrassing to them only if the local media report their vote and in the Northern Panhandle – that ain’t gonna happen.)
Did you see any mention of this amendment in today’s Intelligencer editorial about the pipeline? Of course not. If our oil needs are as important as that editorial suggests, why didn’t they take Joe and the Republican Party to task for their vote? The answer is simple: because the Keystone Pipeline is not about energy independence or even the cost at the pump, it’s about giving big oil what they want. Joe, the Republican Party, and our "newspapers" know that – they just need to keep repeating the right mantras ("energy independence" and "price at the pump") to carry the day.
I think Markey knew his amendment didn’t have a chance – in all likelihood it was an act of political theatre to call out and embarrass the supporters of the pipeline. Too bad most West Virginians won’t read or hear about this vote.
Correction January 22 - The vote was not on the amendment itself but rather on a motion to table it. (The end result is the same.)
Update January 22 - In addition, to the Markey amendment, Senator Al Franken also proposed an amendment:
Republicans also rejected an amendment proposed by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) to require that if the pipeline is approved, it must be built with American iron and steel. Every Republican, except North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, voted to table that amendment as well.
Senator Manchin did support this amendment.
They're still at it
Continuing their week-long, ethically-challenge effort to discredit all things Obama, this morning’s Intelligencer printed an Associated Press analysis of last night’s State of the Union Address and follow-up. However, the Intelligencer left off the last 182 words of the original article which dealt with health care. Here's what is deleted from the original AP article:
SEN. JONI ERNST: The freshman from Iowa listed Obama's health care law among his "failed policies" and added, "We see the hurt caused by canceled health care plans and higher monthly insurance bills."
THE FACTS: The jury is still out on the law Republicans call "Obamacare."
The number of uninsured people is down by at least 10 million. A large ongoing Gallup survey documented a steady drop in the nation's uninsured rate since the law's big coverage expansion began last year.
The law's record on affordability is mixed. The share of Americans forgoing needed medical care because of cost is down significantly, according to a Commonwealth Fund survey, and fewer are struggling to pay medical bills. Yet many insured people with modest incomes still have problems with high out-of-pocket costs.
As for harm caused by lost insurance, many in Ernst's party are intent on repealing the law, which would probably mean even more lost coverage, because many of the estimated 10 million uninsured people who have gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act would no longer be able to afford their premiums.
This section is not especially flattering to Republicans and so I guess that it had to be dropped.
The Wheeling Intelligencer – the Ohio Valley’s version of Fox News.
I first checked this out around 9:30 AM. I copied both the original and the Intelligencer version on their website and placed both of them into Word in order to get a word count. Two hours later, as I’m writing this up, I try to link to the Intelligencer version and I discover that the Intelligencer's version of the AP article with the missing 182 words is no longer on their website – it’s gone. Thus, you’ll need to go to the "newspaper" itself to see that the senator’s comments are missing.
Update - Maybe Republicans can't help themselves - it's in their DNA
From Think Progress:
The official website for House Republicans has posted on YouTube a version of President Obama’s State of the Union address which cuts out comments where the President was critical of Republican rhetoric on climate change, ThinkProgress has learned.
The year 2014 ranks as Earth’s warmest since 1880, according to two separate analyses by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists.
The 10 warmest years in the instrumental record, with the exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000. This trend continues a long-term warming of the planet, according to an analysis of surface temperature measurements by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) in New York.
In an independent analysis of the raw data, also released Friday, NOAA scientists also found 2014 to be the warmest on record.