West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin exploded over the Obama administration’s anti-coal policies Tuesday.
“We’re getting the living crap beaten out of us,” Manchin said during a Senate hearing with President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the country’s top energy regulator. “There has been nothing more beat up than coal.”
Manchin voiced his frustrations with rules put forward by Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency which have made it more costly and difficult for coal plants and coal mines to operate.
“They just beat the living daylights out of little West Virginia, but they sure like what we produce,” Manchin added. “We could do it a lot better if we had a government working with us as a partner.”
Manchin’s remarks were made while questioning Ron Binz, Obama’s nominee to head up the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates electric grids, gas pipelines, natural gas export terminals and hydroelectric power plants.
Binz’s nomination has been hotly contested by Republicans and conservative groups who argue that he used his post as lead utilities regulator in Colorado to push an activist agenda, rather than acting as an unbiased regulator.
Environmental groups and Democrats have backed Binz’s confirmation. Environmentalists have even hired a PR firm, VennSquared Communications, to back Binz’s bid to become FERC chairman.
“Ron Binz has the experience and vision needed to help America ramp up the transition to clean energy sources, including solar,” added Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Binz has been criticized by conservatives for his role in shuttering six coal plants in Colorado order to convert them to natural gas and for pushing through an expensive renewable energy law. Coal supporters in West Virginia — a major coal-producing state — see this as another way for the Obama administration to wage its so-called “war on coal.”