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Raese Attacks Manchin’s Coal Cred

The local media in West Virginia are having a hard time stomaching the campaign ads (and national news coverage) of the suddenly competitive Senate race in their home state. Governor Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) might be a lot of things, they argue, but he’s no enemy of the coal industry — yet that’s exactly the line of attack that Republican businessman John Raese is hammering him with in a new ad today.

“Obama said he wants to tax coal even to bankruptcy,” the narrator of the ad says. “So listen to Obama’s rubber stamp Joe Manchin, he’s for it too.” This statement is enough to make the Charleston Gazette’s Ken Ward Jr. want to tear his hair out, but worse, he notes, is an Associated Press story that basically mimics Raese’s claims as facts:

“Manchin supported energy legislation that passed the state legislature calling for a 25 percent reduction in the amount of coal that West Virginia power plants can use over the next 15 years, an idea similar to what national Democrats are pushing.”

OK, now the next sentence in the story was a quote that might indicate to some readers that this wasn’t necessarily fact, but was an allegation tossed around by Raese campaign ads and political consultants:

“It’s Obama’s cap and trade bill, West Virginia style,” an announcer says in one Raese television ad.

But the best that AP’s Elliott could do in explaining whether this allegation was true was this:

“The West Virginia Coal Association on Thursday endorsed Manchin, saying the energy law he backed would help — not hurt — the state’s coal industry.”

I’ll oblige Ward and note that the state law Manchin supported isn’t at all like the one House Democrats signed to set up a cap-and-trade system for carbon. Not only is Manchin’s bill supported by the coal industry, but it stipulates that the 25 percent quota of “alternative energy” that utilities must generate by 2025 can include all sorts of coal energy, including fuel produced by a coal gasification or liquefaction facility, waste coal, or “advanced coal technology” — which can mean basically anything the industry wants it to.

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