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--- More on coal ash

Published by waner in coal · 21/4/2015 11:17:00
Tags: coalMcKinleyashIntelligencer
This morning's Intelligencer editorial on coal ash tells us why we need local Representative David McKinley's proposal to limit the EPA's oversight of coal ash. The editorial gives the reader the impression that coal ash is a harmless byproduct of the use of coal at electric plants. (Hey, it's "used in a a variety of products, including drywall and concrete"and so it must be safe.) Nowhere in the editorial is there any mention of the harms it causes. (For descriptions of the problems caused by coal ash, simply google "harms of coal ash.") One of the best sources that I found is "Coal Ash: Hazardous to Human Health" by Physicians for Social Responsibility. Another excellent source for information on the subject is the Earthjustice website.

In addition to information, Earthjustice also produces short videos. Here is their most recent video on the topic.

Another outstanding Earthjustice video that brings the problem home is "Little Blue" which is about the harmful effects that coal ash has had on the environment in the northern-most area of West Virginia's northern panhandle. (I've referenced "Little Blue" in previous posts on this subject.)

The sad irony is that "Little Blue" is located inside McKinley's congressional district.

McKinley's bill would have major environmental effects. As Frank Holleman who is Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center has noted:

Rep. David McKinley's bill would dismantle the EPA’s recently announced coal ash protections, put public health and safety at risk by stripping the few critical safety requirements and protections included in the rule, and result in continuing coal ash contamination with no repercussions or responsibility for cleanup.

A final note/question -- the Intelligencer's editorial once again tells us the success that McKinley has had fighting the EPA: "After McKinley exposed the absurdity of the EPA's plan, the agency backed away." This is the third time in the last year that the Intelligencer has asserted this point and after considerable research I have yet to find anything that the EPA backed away from because of David McKinley. As I have asked previously, does anyone know what EPA plan the Intelligencer is talking about or is the Intelligencer giving him credit where credit isn't due?

--- Science deniers on the offensive 2

Published by waner in coal · 5/3/2015 16:47:00
Tags: coalMcKinley
McKinley and the Anti-Science (formerly Republican) Party

While the fossil fuel industry is harassing scientists (see below), the House of Representatives is doing its part. This week it brought back two anti-science bills that they passed last year that didn't make it through the Senate: the Secret Science Reform Act and Science Advisory Board Reform Act. As described by Think Progress:

If it became law, the “Secret Science” bill would prohibit the EPA from using science that includes private data, or data that can’t be easily reproduced. Bill sponsor Lamar Smith (R-TX) says this would stop “hidden and flawed” science from being the basis of EPA regulations, though many scientific organizations have disagreed with the characterization of their data.

Republicans are also going after a board that provides advice and info to the EPA - they want to make it friendlier to industry:

The Science Advisory Board Reform Act, would change the rules surrounding which scientists are allowed to serve on the Science Advisory Board (SAB), a group that gives scientific advice to the EPA. The SAB reviews the quality of science used to justify EPA regulations, like rules that limit air pollution from power plants. Among other things, the bill sponsored by Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) would make it easier for scientists with financial ties to corporations to advise the agency, and would make it more difficult for scientists who have applied for grants from the EPA to join the board.

Not content with stacking the deck, local representative David McKinley thought that these bills did not go far enough and so he offered an amendment to the Science Advisory Board bill. David Roberts at Grist describes McKinley's amendment:

Its sole purpose is to prohibit the EPA’s Science Advisory Board from taking into consideration, for any purpose, the following reports:

    • the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s National Climate Assessment
    • the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report
    • the May 2013 Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order No. 12866
    • the July 2014 Pathways to Deep Decarbonization Report, from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations

So. When considering what to do about carbon pollution, EPA may not consider what America’s best scientists have concluded about it, what an international panel of scientists has concluded about it, how the federal government has officially recommended calculating its value, or the most comprehensive solutions for it. Oh, and it can’t consider Agenda 21 either. Otherwise the EPA can go nuts.

Looks like McKinley's angling to win that award for service to the coal ash industry again this year!

Here's a copy of McKinley's amendment.
        (special hat tip to

--- McKinley and Manchin on Obama's "Authorization for the Use of Military Force"

Published by waner in WV politics · 16/2/2015 17:01:00
Tags: ManchinMcKinleyIsis
Late last week the Obama Administration asked for Congress to authorize a continued fight against ISIL although the document does not allow for “enduring offensive ground combat operations.” As a follow-up, the Charleston Gazette polled our congressional delegation and most of them would not say how they would vote on the authorization. However, Senator Manchin and Representative McKinley, for quite different reasons, said that they would vote against it.

McKinley said that he would be against the authorization because it doesn't go far enough: “I think our military knows what they need to do there, and I don’t think it’s right for government to stipulate how we’re going to combat this war." On the other hand, Manchin is against the authorization because it goes too far:

“We’ve already given 6,600 American lives trying to liberate and help that part of the world; we’ve spent about 2- to 3-trillion dollars,” Manchin said. “Under no circumstances do I believe us getting engaged in a ground war over there is going to change that part of the world. Hasn’t done it yet, and I don’t think it will.

“When you put American troops in there, it’s like throwing gasoline on the fire.”
While our local "newspapers" carried the original AP story, they have not yet followed-up on it. They have never met a war they didn't like and probably agree with McKinley's position -- it will be interesting to see how they handle a Manchin vote against authorization given their general unwillingness to criticize the Senator.

While I don't often agree with him, Joe Manchin has always struck me as the consummate politician -- he always seems to know what will play in West Virginia. I think one exception to that generalization is our further involvement in Mideast wars -- something, I believe, a majority of West Virginian's support and something that Manchin has consistently opposed. Maybe Joe knows something I don't know.

--- More on coal ash

Published by waner in coal · 27/1/2015 10:28:15
Tags: coalMcKinleyEPA

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.

--- McKinley sends out a slick government-paid-for PR release disguised as “2014 Year End Report”

Published by waner in David McKinley · 1/1/2015 17:22:48
Tags: McKinley

If you live in WV’s 1st Congressional District you probably received in the mail Congressman David McKinley’s glossy end-of-the-year report which is mostly a listing of the wonderful things that he has done for his constituency. What McKinley doesn’t tell you is that this "report" is paid for by that same Federal government that he often criticizes for waste and partisan concerns. More to the point is what his website said back in 2010 when he first ran for Congress:

David McKinley believes that it’s wrong to abuse taxpayer money by funding campaign-style "constituent" mailings and phone calls during re-election years.

That was listed under "The McKinley Plan for Congressional Reform."  At the top of the list, by the way, was "term limits."  (How many times have candidates taken the "I’ll work to impose term limits" pledge only to ignore it once they are elected?)

McKinley may be a hypocrite but he is consistent. In 2012, USA Today studied the cost of unsolicited mass mailings sent out by House of Representative members for the last nine months of 2011 and McKinley spent $263,000 for the period – good enough for 4th place among all representatives. (The McKinley camp would probably point out that we are not now in the middle of an election. I would answer that politicians, especially representatives who must run every two years, are always in the middle of an election.)

Here’s a question for you if you’re in the 1st Congressional District but don’t live in the immediate Wheeling area. I live in Wheeling and my mailing from McKinley has a full color photo of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge on the front cover. Is it on your front page? My hunch is that, like magazines which produce different covers for different demographics, the "Year End Report" has different photos for different parts of the district. Different covers would mean additional needless costs. If you have a different cover photo, drop me a line (see "contact me" above).

(hat tip to Think Progress)

--- Intelligencer election derby results

Published by waner in Wheeling Intelligencer · 6/11/2014 10:59:58
Tags: CapitoTennantMcKinleyGainerIntelligencer

A photo finish

As we approach the finish line, Capito and Tennant are separated by just 2.4 column inches. But with a huge Election Day news reports on Capito and McKinley (see post below), Capito is able to draw clear and win the Intelligencer Derby.

Final Results:

Capito (R for Senate)                   429 square inches of coverage
Tennant (D for Senate)                 383
McKinley (R for House)                321
Gainer (D for House)                      98

Comments on the process:

1.  The numbers are the number of square inches devoted to each candidate.  My original intention was to use column inches as my measuring tool.  I quickly discovered that the Intelligencer did not always use the same width for all of their columns - in particular, they sometimes used wider than normal columns when covering candidates. As a result, I multiplied column width by column length to get the individual numbers.

2.  I tried to leave my personal interpretations and biases out of the process.  Consequently, I counted only the specific space devoted to the candidate regardless of whether the content was positive or negative.

Some personal reactions:

1.  Tennant led late because of the number of October negative articles about her. With the exception of occasional comments by Tennant spokespersons in articles devoted to Capito, her coverage was all positive.

2.  The race does not include editorial-page commentary. Had that been factored in, Tennant would have easily won given the numerous editorials/Myer columns that attacked her.

3.  Throughout the campaign, I did not find anything that might be labeled negative about McKinley. There was also no negative coverage of Gainer but that was because the Intelligencer essentially ignored him. (One article on July 18 accounted for 75% of his coverage.)

--- Election Day

Published by waner in WV politics · 4/11/2014 11:53:51
Tags: McKinleyCapitoRepublicans

The Intelligencer

No need to vote today - Wheeling Intelligencer declares election over

In a large (64 point?) headline, bedecked by a red, white and blue "ELECTION 2014" banner, this morning's Wheeling Intelligencer declared Capito and McKinley as the election winners. Accompanying the article is a near life-size photo of McKinley and Capito obviously celebrating their victory.

"Fair and balanced" to the end

After spending 378 words describing the Capito/McKinley victory, the Intelligencer devoted the last sentence of the article to McKinley's opponent, Glen Gainer:

Gainer spent Monday in Parkersburg, wrapping up a weekend trip across the state.

The article did not mention what Natalie Tennant was doing on Monday – we can probably assume that she was secretly meeting with Harry Reid and Michelle Obama.

Jon Stewart explains the Republican’s national strategy

The full "Daily Show" segment is available in a number places.  (Here for instance.)

--- Coal ash and David McKinley

Published by waner in coal · 28/10/2014 16:26:45
Tags: McKinleycoalEPA

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."

Of course we could contact Congressman David McKinley about this but I don’t think it will help - here’s a press release from the congressman’s office dated June 18 of this year:

Washington, D.C.—This morning, Rep. David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-WV), was presented with the Champion of Coal Ash Award for his work in Congress to protect and promote the use of coal ash and stop the EPA from labeling it as a hazardous material.

McKinley has also done very well this election cycle with contributions from the coal industry. So far this campaign he has received $116,000 from the coal which ranks him second in the House.

Update – As I was putting this post together, Earth Justice reported that the "White House Begins Review of First-Ever Coal Ash Rule":

Washington, D.C — The White House Office of Management and Budget has begun its review of the first-ever federal rule for the storage and disposal of toxic coal ash. This is an important step towards ensuring the EPA meets its court-ordered deadline of December 19 to finalize much needed protections.

I'm sure both McKinley and the Intelligencer will have something to say about this within the next day or two. And given the choice of coming to the aid of either his constituents or the coal industry, which do you think he'll choose?

--- Did this actually happen or is Myer making it up?

Published by waner in Wheeling Intelligencer · 7/9/2014 07:35:08
Tags: McKinley

In his Saturday Intelligencer column discussed below, Myer says the following about McKinley:

McKinley has been one of Capitol Hill's staunchest defenders of coal and reasonably priced electricity. In fact, he led the fight against an Environmental Protection Agency plan to regulate coal ash as a toxic waste material.

So effective was McKinley's action that the EPA admitted it was wrong and backed away from the plan.

Does anyone know anything about this?  I have searched and searched for this and can find nothing to suggest that this actually happened. McKinley did sponsor a bill dealing with coal ash (H.R. 2218) which passed the House in July but it was not brought up in the Senate.  What happened next?  In particular, I am especially interested in Myer' statement that the "EPA admitted it was wrong and backed away from the plan."  Is Myer correct or did he just make this up?  If you know anything about this, please let me know. (See "contact me" above.)

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