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Here is the perfect example of why we need better Democrats. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) decided to shill for the coal industry, attack the Obama administration, and lie through his teeth in one shallow breath.

What I don’t understand is the subsidies. The subsidies of energy, whether it be to oil, gas, wind, solar, biofuels, ethanol. The only energy source — which is the greatest source that we have so far as we’re dependent on — is coal. It doesn’t get a penny of subsidies. But it’s been villainized by this administration and so many people and it’s the one we depend on the most. It gives back more than it takes. I can’t figure it out.

This statement is beyond inaccurate. It is simply dishonest. Perhaps this man cannot separate his loyalties to the coal industry because his state's economy is dependent on coal extraction.

Senator Manchin is a liar when he says coal is not heavily subsidized by federal and state governments. The coal industry received over $17 billion in federal subsidies from 2002 to 2008. State governments also kick in hundreds of millions in additional subsidies. Here are some of the direct costs to the state of West Virginia associated with the coal industry (see page 12).

Direct coal industry: On-budget expenditures. The West Virginia state budget includes a variety of expenditures that exist only because of the state’s coal industry. We focus on coal-related expenditures that are paid for with general revenue and state road funds. These include, for example, units of government within the Department of Commerce and Department of Environmental Protection, as well as expenditures for the repair of the state’s coal haul roads. We calculate that estimated on-budget coal-related expenditures amounted to approximately $113.7 million for Fiscal Year 2009. The estimated on-budget expenditures are considerably less than the direct revenues generated by the industry; therefore, we estimate that the coal industry directly provided a net benefit to the state budget of approximately $193.6 million in Fiscal Year 2009.

Direct coal industry: Off-budget expenditures. In addition to on-budget expenditures, we estimate off-budget expenditures in the form of tax expenditures. Tax expenditures are foregone revenues resulting from the provision of tax exemptions, credits, and reduced or preferential tax rates. Tax expenditures have the same fiscal impact as direct on-budget government expenditures. They both result in a loss of tax revenue to state government, thereby reducing the funds available for other government programs and services. We estimate that total tax expenditures provided by the State of West Virginia to the coal industry amounted to approximately $173.8 million in Fiscal Year 2009.

And let's not forget the legacy costs to future generations of West Virginians (see page 13).

While this report focuses on impacts of the coal industry and its employees on the state budget, there are certain legacy costs that will continue to require funding long into the future. For example, in West Virginia, as in other Appalachian states, many coal mine operators have chosen to step away from their mines before full reclamation is complete, leaving a legacy of polluted drainage, drinking water contamination, and health and safety threats. There are 4,391 abandoned mine lands in West Virginia. While $464 million has been spent to complete projects, an additional $1.5 billion of work is required. In addition, more recent bond forfeiture sites are also in need of reclamation. These legacy sites present a liability for the coal industry. Because the main funding mechanism in place to reclaim these sites is insufficient and scheduled to end in 2022, action is needed to ensure that reclamation is completed and that the costs are not shifted to taxpayers. If action is not taken, then the West Virginia state budget could face additional expenditures in the future to finish the job of reclaiming these legacy sites.

A second legacy cost is the lasting impact of coal trucks on state roads and bridges. The total cost of repairing West Virginia’s roads and bridges damaged by overweight coal trucks is approximately $4.0 billion. Even if the state were spending $200 million per year to repair and replace the infrastructure as needed, it would take 20 years of repairs and a cessation of coal truck operations to cover the full cost.

A third legacy cost is the workers’ compensation debt accumulated prior to 2005, known as the “Old Fund.” Some portion of these unfunded liabilities resulted from injuries and deaths related to coal industry activity. Approximately $115.5 million in coal-related revenues—mostly from taxes on coal production—was dedicated toward paying off the Old Fund debt in Fiscal Year 2009. This represents a substantial source of lost revenues that the state could be putting to more beneficial uses.

As the former governor of West Virginia, Senator Manchin is well aware that the taxpayers shoulder many of the costs associated with the mining, processing, emissions, and combustion wastes associated with coal. He is also well aware of other costs associated with coal. For example, studies conducted in West Virginia have shown a strong association between coal mining activity in an area and chronic health conditions, including cancer. The link between coal mining activity and cancer appears to be associated with water and air quality issues proximal to mine waste discharge points. The lack of economic development beyond coal has produced some of the highest rates of poverty in the nation, particularly in counties with the high rates of coal mining activity. The combination of pollution, poverty, and mining-specific health conditions (e.g., black lung) also drastically reduce life expectancy where coal is king.

And let's not forget that the taxpayers have been on the hook for cleaning up the largest coal ash spill in history...

Speaking of coal ash, a new report found that coal combustion waste also leaches hexavalent chromium into ground and surface water. Hexavalent chromium is highly carcinogenic substance at the heart of Erin Brockovitch story.

The report also identifies 28 coal ash disposal sites in 17 states where groundwater was documented to exceed existing federal or state standards for chromium and to exceed by many orders of magnitude the proposed California drinking water goal for hexavalent chromium. These contaminated coal ash dump sites are likely the tip of the iceberg. The threat of drinking water contamination by hexavalent chromium is present in hundreds of communities near unlined coal ash disposal sites across the United States. While the EPA doesn’t need another reason to define coal ash as a hazardous waste when disposed, it certainly has one now.

I am sure Senator Manchin can find some excuse for exposing Americans to hexavalent chromium, arsenic, and other heavy metals in their drinking water thanks to lax regulation of coal combustion waste.

Manchin's contempt for the truth is not limited to the massive direct and indirect subsidies to the coal industry. He also wants to increase the devastating impact on mountaintop removal mining on his state and future generations of West Virginians. Here is a portion of his speech given today to the West Virginia Coal Association Symposium.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin today addressed the annual West Virginia Coal Association Symposium, drawing applause from the crowd as he discussed his first piece of legislation, the “EPA Fair Play Act of 2011.”

“I believe it is absolutely wrong – the unbridled power that these agencies have. Or, the power they are exercising because they think they have it,” Senator Manchin said. “It’s wrong not just for West Virginia, it’s wrong for America.”

Senator Manchin yesterday introduced the “EPA Fair Play Act,” which would prevent the agency from changing its rules on businesses after permits have already been granted, as they did with Southern West Virginia’s Spruce Mine.

The Spruce Mine is the largest mountaintop removal mining project ever proposed. The permit was denied because the company refused to limit the stream impacts by reducing valley fills. What Manchin means by playing fair is for the EPA to ignore the effects of mountaintop removal mining on water and air quality, not to mention deforestation and laughable land reclamation standards.

Senator Manchin certainly makes up in audacity what he lacks in integrity. Robert Byrd, the man Joe Manchin replaced in the Senate, had the courage to note the dwindling benefits of coal to the West Virginia economy and the high costs of putting the interests of the coal industry ahead of the American people.

To be part of any solution, one must first acknowledge a problem. To deny the mounting science of climate change is to stick our heads in the sand and say “deal me out.” West Virginia would be much smarter to stay at the table.

The 20 coal-producing states together hold some powerful political cards. We can have a part in shaping energy policy, but we must be honest brokers if we have any prayer of influencing coal policy on looming issues important to the future of coal like hazardous air pollutants, climate change, and federal dollars for investments in clean coal technology.  

Most people understand that America cannot meet its current energy needs without coal, but there is strong bi-partisan opposition in Congress to the mountaintop removal method of mining it. We have our work cut out for us in finding a prudent and profitable middle ground – but we will not reach it by using fear mongering, grandstanding and outrage as a strategy. As your United States Senator, I must represent the opinions and the best interests of the entire Mountain State, not just those of coal operators and southern coalfield residents who may be strident supporters of mountaintop removal mining.

Manchin is not an honest broker when he claims coal is not subsidized and produces benefits in excess of its costs. The best thing one can say about him is that he is no worse than any Republican alternative. That ain't saying much.

Originally posted to DWG on Fri Feb 04, 2011 at 02:23 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow. I knew (7+ / 0-)

    people were pissed at Manchin, but I didn't realize he was this bad. What a tool.

    Any efforts underway to primary this DINO before he does too much damage?

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Fri Feb 04, 2011 at 02:39:04 PM PST

  •  Manchin: The Coalaholic (5+ / 0-)

    Dick Morris masturbates to Hillary Clinton.

    by Nonconformist on Fri Feb 04, 2011 at 02:46:20 PM PST

  •  this joker is up again in 2 years, yes? I (5+ / 0-)

    am thinking a primary and general election in a presidential year might get something better...

  •  There's more... (8+ / 0-)

    The Martin County Sludge Spill was an accident that occurred after midnight on October 11, 2000 when the bottom of a coal sludge impoundment owned by Massey Energy in Martin County, Kentucky, USA, broke into an abandoned underground mine below. The slurry came out of the mine openings, sending an estimated 306,000,000 US gallons (1.16×109 l; 255,000,000 imp gal) of sludge down two tributaries of the Tug Fork River. By morning, Wolf Creek was oozing with the black waste; on Coldwater Fork, a 10-foot (3.0 m) wide stream became a 100-yard (91 m) expanse of thick sludge.

    The spill was over five feet deep in places and covered nearby residents' yards. The spill polluted hundreds of miles (300 - 500 km) of the Big Sandy River and its tributaries and the Ohio River. The water supply for over 27,000 residents was contaminated, and all aquatic life in Coldwater Fork and Wolf Creek was killed. The spill was 30 times larger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill (12 million gallons) and one of the worst environmental disasters ever in the southeastern United States, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.[citation needed] The spill was exceeded in volume by the Kingston Fossil Plant coal fly ash slurry spill in 2008.

    U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, wife of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), oversaw the Mine Safety and Health Administration at the time. Chao place a McConnell staffer in charge of the MSHA investigation into the spill. In 2002, a $5,600 fine was levied. That September, Massey gave $100,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, chaired by McConnell.

    In 2005 Appalshop filmmaker Robert Salyer released a documentary entitled Sludge, chronicling the continuing story of the Martin County disaster, the resulting federal investigation, and the looming threat of coal sludge ponds throughout the coalfield region. In the wake of the Kingston Fossil Plant coal fly ash slurry spill, Appalshop has provided a web stream of Sludge for the public

    Massey has been sold and Blankenship has resigned but this evil corruption has dominated WV culture, economy and politics. I live in WV and Manchin's campaign was a disgrace, pandering to the worst of the right leaning voters, bashing Obama and bowing to the NRA. He was elected primarily because his opponent, John Raese, was even worse.

    May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house. George Carlin

    by msmacgyver on Fri Feb 04, 2011 at 03:07:55 PM PST

    •  Manchin has a new owner... (7+ / 0-)

      Coal miner Massey merges with rival
      First Published: January 29, 2011: 12:30 PM ET


      NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Massey Energy, owner of the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia that was the site of a tragic explosion last April, was acquired by rival Alpha Natural Resources in a $7.1 billion deal, the companies announced Saturday.

      Last year's accident at Upper Big Branch caused the deaths of 29 miners and raised serious questions about mine safety issues at Richmond, Va.-based Massey (MEE). The company's stock price was more than cut in half from early April through early July of last year.

      The deal between Alpha and Massey combines the third and fourth largest coal producers in the United States. Together, the companies have 110 mines with 5 billion tons of coal reserves.

      Massey, which will report its fourth-quarter results on Feb. 1, is expected to post a loss. Sales, however, are forecast to rise 28%.

      Demand for coal is expected to remain high in 2011 because of strong economic growth in China, India and other emerging markets. But Peabody Energy (BTU, Fortune 500), the largest coal company in the United States, indicated when it reported earnings last week that there were concerns about supply issues as a result of floods in Australia.

      May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house. George Carlin

      by msmacgyver on Fri Feb 04, 2011 at 03:20:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ugh (5+ / 0-)

        Alpha is as antagonistic to unions as Massey has been.

        But like Richmond, Va.-based Massey, Alpha Natural Resources is mostly a non-union company. Company executives brag in their most recent report to shareholders  that 87 percent of its production comes from “union free” operations. As of Dec. 31, 2009, 79 percent of Alpha employees were “union free,” the company said.

        Alpha is also dominated by surface mining operations, which means they will attempt to expand Massey's mountaintop removal footprint in Appalachia.

        But nearly half of that production came from Alpha’s two huge surface mines in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. The Belle Ayre and Eagle Butte mines together produced more than 50 million tons with about 600 workers  in 2010, according to U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data.

        Powder River Basin coal tends to be high in mercury so I would expect more opposition to regulating mercury emissions from coal plants by Manchin.

        Safety issues have also been a problem with Alpha, but hopefully they will not be as aggressive in cutting corners and costs as Massey (given that the Upper Big Branch disaster hammered the stock and opened the company to ongoing liability).

        Alpha looks like it will push Manchin every bit as hard as Massey on unionization, environmental regulations, mine safety, and subsidies. Oh goody.

        Be radical in your compassion.

        by DWG on Fri Feb 04, 2011 at 04:03:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Count on it... (6+ / 0-)

          Manchin is in the Senate to protect the interests of coal.

          There were published rumors that he's been courted by the GOPers with offers which dovetail with his agenda.

          He is very much a Blue Dog from pro-life to guns and was endorsed by the CofC.

          He also failed to show for the DADT vote which showed his cowardice.

          He only has two years to build up some credibility with voters and so far, not so good, IMO.

          May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house. George Carlin

          by msmacgyver on Fri Feb 04, 2011 at 04:35:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  What was the excuse he did not show up for DADT (7+ / 0-)

            A family Christmas party...

            He also missed the DREAM act vote for the same party. He is certainly shaping up to be quite the tool.

            Be radical in your compassion.

            by DWG on Fri Feb 04, 2011 at 04:54:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I got the sense during the campaign that (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RunawayRose, DWG, Situational Lefty

              he was being over-handled. He often appeared stiff and rehearsed rather than spontaneous and able to field questions unrelated to the State.  

              He was a well liked governor and I think he genuinely enjoyed what he was doing. Both he and Shelley Moore Capito are the product of political dynasties and I believe Capito will run for governor.

              I think that Manchin simply does not want to be a US Senator.

              May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house. George Carlin

              by msmacgyver on Fri Feb 04, 2011 at 05:02:27 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Let me disagree with your last statement. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                socalmonk, msmacgyver

                I think the man is as ambitious as Lucifer.

                He basically bent the whole machinery of state government in the pursuit of his own agenda, thereby subverting generations of de-politicization of the civil service here...

                "Well liked?" Yeah, well, so is Glen Beck and Rushbo, in these parts.

                •  Agree to disagree is fine with me, and (0+ / 0-)

                  I think you might have a better take on him than I do.

                  I'm not at all familiar with his approach to civil service in WV and not clear what you mean by 'de-politicization'.

                  I think we'd agree that his senatorial launch was not promising. The no-show for DADT following his 'no' vote on the cloture motion was cowardly.

                  Personally, I think he's going to switch parties but either way, he's going to have a very tough re-election.

                  May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house. George Carlin

                  by msmacgyver on Fri Feb 04, 2011 at 09:20:36 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  DWG thank you for staying with this fairly (6+ / 0-)

    unpopular topic.  It isn't as sexy as some other headline news.  But oh so important.  Thank you for showing us the who behind the what is happening.

    And thank you for that eKos tag.

    "Never, desist till we ... extinguish this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, will scarce believe that it suffered a disgrace and dishonor to this country.

    by Regina in a Sears Kit House on Fri Feb 04, 2011 at 05:08:26 PM PST

  •  And DKos scolded those of us who opposed him (5+ / 0-)

    Many liberals from West Virginia (including myself) have opposed Joe Manchin for a LONG, long time.

    We were scolded by some Kossacks in the 2010 elections for refusing to vote for Manchin.

    I love saying, "I told you so."

  •  The awful truth (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    va dare, DWG, socalmonk

    is that WV didn't have to elect Manchin. Third  party candidate Jesse Johnson stood for more Democratic principles than any Democrat in the state. He was for universal health care, abolition of corporate personhood, and against mountaintop removal, wars, Wall Street bailouts, corporate welfare and illegal surveillance of American citizens. He supports environmental protections, campaign finance reform, restoration of Constitutional Rights and a woman's right to control her own body.
    Sometimes you have to look for better Democrats outside of the corporate controlled wing of the Democratic Party - because that is what we have in WV.

    "I have never missed Keith Olbermann, Hunter S. Thompson, George Carlin and Abbie Hoffman more than I do today."

    by wv voice of reason on Fri Feb 04, 2011 at 07:04:48 PM PST

    •  Second that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      va dare

      The Democratic wing of the Democratic party is vanishingly small to invisible, in the Mountain State.

      •  The DW of the DP (0+ / 0-)

        is already holding meetings in the 1st Congressional District to plan for 2012 as well as the special election for governor. The meetings are surprisingly well attended. A 2-Day statewide DFA Campaign Training event is in the works for April 2011. Email me through my profile for information as it becomes available.

        "I have never missed Keith Olbermann, Hunter S. Thompson, George Carlin and Abbie Hoffman more than I do today."

        by wv voice of reason on Sat Feb 05, 2011 at 05:38:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Corporatists like Joe Manchin (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    will be the death of the Democratic Party.  Rahm Emanuel can grab all the corporate cash he wants, but we will be left with a Democratic Party that will be easily robbed.  

    Fuck the Corporatists.  Fuck the Centrists.  We need better Democrats in positions of power who will actually defend Democratic priorities.  The Democratic agenda doesn't fit well with people like Rahm Emanuel and Tim Kaine.

    -9.50/-7.59 - Bring 'em back, Out of Iraq and Afghanistan

    by Situational Lefty on Fri Feb 04, 2011 at 10:54:30 PM PST

  •  even worse... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I fear Joe Manchin has been so busy filling up his head with common sense he's suffering from short term memory loss.

    Just 14 months ago he was holding a press conference extolling the virtues of government subsidies for coal in the federal stimulus package... from Bluefield Daily News, $334M in stimulus to clean coal technology, Dec 5, 2009

    Rockefeller, Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Mike Morris, president and chief executive officer of American Electric Power and Gov. Joe Manchin conducted a telephone press conference with about 25 reporters to announce the funding for the expansion of a carbon capture and sequestration demonstration project at AEP's Mountaineer Power Plant near New Haven. AEP will match the federal funds granted through the Clean Coal Power Initiative and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.


    Manchin expressed his thanks for Rockefeller's leadership in bringing the investment to a West Virginia plant. Morris praised the announcement as being "a great day" for the utility, state and nation, because of the advancement of clean coal technology and the good-paying jobs on the horizon for people of the region.

    More details at Sen. Manchin's $19,209,000,000 lie

    •  One can only guess (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      prfb, wvablue

      at his idiosyncratic definition of subsidies. It is amazing. Unfortunately, none of the billions the state has spent on coal-related infrastructure, monitoring and cleaning up coal-related pollution and destruction, and covering the costs of coal-related health problems in the state does anything to help future generations.

      You have wonder at politicians fighting for a destructive project like Spruce. It is not going to create a net of 200 jobs. Some of those positions will be filled by workers already doing surface mining in the state. It is a shell game. I have not seen the numbers from 2010 but WV has been losing several hundred mining jobs every year, yet the amount of coal produced remains static.

      WV is filled with hard-working, industrious people. For the sake of their future, you would think that politicians would be scrambling to develop an economy beyond coal extraction. It is sad.

      Be radical in your compassion.

      by DWG on Sat Feb 05, 2011 at 05:18:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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