The occasion for his passionate remarks was his refusal to go along with a coal industry-backed resolution of disapproval of the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules on mercury and air toxins, which failed to pass on Wednesday, 53 to 46.
Rockefeller said the industry's "scare tactics are a cynical waste of time, money, and, worst of all, coal miners’ hopes. But sadly, these coal operators have closed themselves off from any other opposing voices and few dared to speak out for change – even though it’s been staring them in the face for years."
The senator added that he wants West Virginians to prepare for the future in light of coal's finite quantity, the rise of natural gas, and the increasing desire for a low-carbon economy. He asked that they consider the health implications of the rule in question and remarked, "I oppose this resolution because I care so much about West Virginians." For his text, from The Charleston Gazette, go here.
A bit of background on the rule: On December 21, 2011, EPA announced the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, the first national standards on power-plant emissions of mercury and toxic air pollution such as arsenic, acid gas, nickel, selenium, and cyanide. The standards will slash emissions of these dangerous pollutants by relying on widely available, proven pollution controls that are already in use at more than half of the nation’s coal-fired power plants. For more on the MACT rules, click here.