Massey Energy

Public Good
May 30, 2011

On a slow Friday afternoon, I settled in to read two lengthy reports—one from the West Virginia Governor’s Independent Investigation Panel on the Upper Big Branch/Massey Energy explosion that killed 29 miners, the other from the Urban Land Institute on the slow-motion crisis in U.S. infrastructure. On the surface, these reports seemed to have nothing in common. But as I plowed through them, I realized that they were addressing two sides of the same question—namely, what government does that nothing else can or will.

Is The Coal Industry Suicidal?
July 21, 2010

For years, the coal industry's strategy for dealing with climate change has gone something like this: 1) Fight off caps on carbon pollution for as long as possible. 2) Convince politicians to throw gobs of money at fancy low-carbon technologies like carbon capture and sequestration. 3) Pray that those fancy technologies actually work. The strategy has succeeded so far. Seeing as how half the electricity in the United States comes from coal, there's never a shortage of members of Congress willing to do whatever the industry wants. And yet...

What You Need to Know About the Democrat Who Wants Robert Byrd's Seat
July 20, 2010

West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, a Democrat, confirmed today that he will run for Robert Byrd’s Senate seat this fall. Chances are he’ll be running against Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, although she hasn’t formally announced her candidacy yet. So who exactly is Joe Manchin? Here are some quick, essential facts: —Before becoming governor in 2005, Manchin served in the West Virginia state legislature and senate. He was also secretary of state from 2001-2005.

Old Senator, New Tricks
January 25, 2010

As a rule, politicians in West Virginia don't care for environmentalists. This is, after all, a state that supplies 50 percent of U.S. coal exports, a state where the mining industry is responsible for roughly 30,000 jobs—a state that essentially depends on pollution for its survival. And West Virginia's most prominent coal champion has long been Robert Byrd, who once slammed green critics of mining as "head-in-the-cloud individuals" out to destroy jobs and impoverish the region.