WV: More Massey Madness and the ongoing Paradox of MTR Oppositions

If you live near the West Virginia coal fields and mines, you certainly know what the acronym MTR stands for. If you live in West Virginia at all and keep youself even slightly in tune with the "goings on" of the state, then chances are great that you will be familiar with the three-letter phrase yourself.

MTR is short for the dreaded MountainTop Removal mining method that quite literally lives up to its namesake. It ravages and rapes the state of its natural beauty while causing numerous unintended health and environmental effects hazardous to the way of life of the people living near these sites. The Mountain State is quickly turning into the plateau, bluff, and coal slurry state without much opposition from those who lead the state in Washington and in Charleston.

Recently the EPA has issued more guidelines in regards to the mining technique

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just posted a new guidance document for Appalachian strip mining on its Web site.

It’s called “Assessment of Stream Ecosystem Structure and Function Under Clean Water Act Section 404 Associated with Review of Permits for Appalachian Surface Coal Mining.”

Neither EPA nor the Army Corps of Engineers have formally announced the issuance of this guidance, which appears to have been posted pretty late on a Friday afternoon.

But the issues dealt with in the guidance are the same as those raised in a March 2007 ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers: Whether government agency reviews of mining permits adequately consider impacts on not just the “structure” of streams, but also the important ecological “functions” served by those streams

 

Source: Gazette’s Coal Tattoo

Without a solid force against MTR, the state will continue to function its coal economy and income based on this method. Its cheaper, easier, and requires less miners to perform the tasks necessary to complete the job. The after-effects are mammoth in size and people all across the state are left to clean up the mess and live with the coal slurry deposits and several other hazardous aftershocks of this haphazard and carefree way of mining coal.

West Virginia’s special senate election could be the first real breaking point for this method of mining. Ken Hechler (albeit 95 years of age) is gunning for the democratic nomination this august to fill Robert C. Byrd’s vacated seat in the Senate. His soul purpose for running, as mentioned in a previous blog, is his opposition to Mountaintop Removal Mining. Hechler isn’t slated to make a big run at the seat, and even claims that he isn’t using much of his own financial resources to help his chances. He is running solely to oppose MTR and send a message across the state and country where he stands on the issue and where his backers also stand. We need more people like Ken Hechler taking a stand for whats right in West Virginia and falling in line to back an opposition to MTR.

Governor Joe Manchin is pretty timid when discussing issues of MTR. He doesn’t outrightly throw his entire support into MTR, nor does he oppose it either. Hechler claims that Manchin doesn’t give enough care and attention to those affected by the Mountain stripping method.

"I think he has turned a deaf ear to the pleas of those people that are adversely affected by mountaintop removal," the former congressman and secretary of state said at a Capitol news conference to discuss his campaign.

Hechler and Manchin are both seeking the seat left empty by the death of Sen. Robert C. Byrd. They are joined in the Democratic primary by former state Delegate Sheirl Fletcher.

Charleston Gazette

Hechler doesn’t have a super strong campaign or following, his followers even express doubt of his chances of winning… but I truly admire the reason he chose to run at the ripe old age of 95. He would be older than Robert C. Byrd was when he died if he actually got elected.

As promised! A Massey Energy Idiotic Update!!!! Those who frequent the Massey Trend will be so excited that there is yet another installment, so I hope I don’t disappoint!
After the news release a few weeks ago about Massey Energy having their Methane monitors disabled, damage control naturally ensued on the parts of Grandwizard Blankenship and his coal-black posse of corporate power.

Recently mentioned in Coal Tattoo (a blog on the WV Charleston Gazette Website dedicated to the interests of coal and news about it in WV) was a piece about Massey Energy officials meeting with the families of employees and sounding off on the story that the methane monitors had not been disabled in the Upper Big Branch Mine prior to the disaster earlier this year. And of course that Don Blankenship would never tell a lie in the world so this must be true…..

Massey Energy officials have said they want an open, transparent and complete investigation of what caused the deaths of 29 mines at the company’s Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, W.Va., four months ago.

But today’s Massey briefing for families of the miners who died was held behind closed doors. Three uniformed Charleston Police Department officers guarded the door of the ballroom at the Embassy Suites Hotel.

CEO Don Blankenship declined to talk with reporters afterward, and his general counsel, Shane Harvey, only took a couple of questions in a brief session with the media following the meeting.

The news release didn’t say a whole lot, either, but here’s the quote from Blankenship about the purpose of the meeting:

The purpose of today’s meeting was to keep the families informed of key developments associated with the UBB investigation. Massey Energy will continue to do our part in updating families on key information obtained during this continuing inquiry.

The key thing being pushed today seems to be the idea that Massey has concluded from the evidence available thus far that methane monitors in the mine’s longwall section had not been disabled prior to the April 5 explosion that killed 29 workers.

Coal Tattoo

The families of the deceased miners, and the ones still working for Massey, deserve to know the truth about what happened in that mine prior to the explosion and on the day of. Massey Energy has not done a good job at being transparent and coherent enough to the downtrodden families and its wrong and sad. Show some moral integrity Blankenship! If any exists in that coal-baron body of yours.

More Soon! If you are interested in following the coal news in West Virginia check out coal tattoo or follow @kenwardjr on twitter for the best updates

WV-2: Capito (R) Will NOT Run for Byrd's Senate Seat

Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), once rumored to be eyeing Robert C. Byrd's vacated Senate seat, will no longer participate in the special election this November to take over the second seat for West Virginia in the Senate alongside Jay Rockefeller.

GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is expected to announce Wednesday that she will not run in the special election to fill the unexpired term of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), according to a report late Tuesday on the Fix, a Washington Post political blog.

Roll Call

This is big news for the West Virginia Republican Party, because now they will have to conjure up another nominee to face the likely Democratic contender... Governor Joe Manchin.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) has decided she will not run to replace Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), three sources familiar with her plans said Tuesday night.

Capito was the favorite on the GOP side, and state legislators gained a concession in a special-election bill passed Monday that would have allowed her to run for both reelection and in the Senate race at the same time.

But, even with that fallback plan, sources tell The Fix that the she has opted not to run. That leaves Gov. Joe Manchin (D), who declared his candidacy Tuesday morning, as an even bigger favorite.

The Fix

Carte Goodwin to Be Named Interim Senator In Place Of Byrd

The AP reported earlier today that Cate Goodwin, Joe Manchin's former aide, will fill the temporary vacancy left with the passing of longtime serving senator Robert C. Byrd

The AP is indicating that West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin will name his former aide Cate Goodwin to temporarily fill the U.S. Senate seat left by the passing of Robert Byrd. Goodwin is no stranger to West Virginia politics, with his previous work for Gov. Manchin as Chief Counsel (he left to return to the private sector in 2009) and his families long and illustrious ties to the Democratic party in West Virginia. Mr. Goodwin's first vote may be his most important as Senate Democrats hope to have his vote stand as the crucial 60th vote in the most recent attempt to pass an unemployment extension

Goodwin, who at 36 would be the Senates youngest member besting Florida Senator George Lemieux will hold Senator Byrd's vacated seat until at least November with the potential that he would serve until the completion of Senator Byrd's term in 2012. A special legislative session is already in progress to resolve the matter.

Source

 

Manchin Ahead in Senate Special Election Polls for WV

Joe Manchin III (D-WV) has been eyeing the United States Senate for awhile. The death of the longest serving Senator in United States history and one of West Virginia’s representatives, Robert C. Byrd, has left a seat vacant with a contest taking place.

The special election to fill the vacated seat will be held in November, and the two top contenders are Governor Joe Manchin, and 2nd Congressional District Representative Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). Manchin is nearing the end of his second term as governor of the Mountain State, and Capito has held her Congressional seat comfortably since 2001. (Capito is the daughter of the controversial Arch Moore of West Virginia.)

Rasmussen Reports poling (not my favorite by any means) has reported that Manchin has a solid 14% lead going into the early weeks of July.

It is pertinent and relevant to mention that this matchup is still hypothetical and is waiting a stamp of approval from the Attorney General.

A special Senate election this November to replace the late Robert Byrd is still awaiting the green light from West Virginia’s attorney general, but popular Democratic Governor Joe Manchin is the early leader in hypothetical matchups with two of his possible Republican opponents.
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in West Virginia, taken Thursday night, shows Manchin with 53% support, while Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito earns 39% of the vote. Three percent (3%) prefer another candidate in the race, and five percent (5%) are undecided.
If former West Virginia Secretary of State Betty Ireland is his GOP rival, Manchin captures 65% voter support. Ireland picks up 26%. Three percent (3%) again like some other candidate, while six percent (6%) are undecided.

Source: Rasmussen Reports

Robert C. Byrd was a legend in West Virginia. His record was marred in his earlier life with his ties to the KKK, but has since redeemed himself, freed from those shackled that once stained his public life and reputation. The filling of his seat is going to be controversial and historic. Byrd has large shoes to fill and the person seated in his place will no doubt have big hills to climb.

Given his popularity still among the state and if numbers remain the same, Manchin should have no problem defeating a GOP contender for the seat in November

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) said Friday that he will almost definitely run for the open Senate seat in West Virginia this year, a move that should provide a measure of relief for Democrats concerned about another battleground this year.

But are Republicans ready to throw in the towel in a race that isn’t even official yet?

Manchin said on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown Friday morning that it is "highly likely" that he will run for the seat held by the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.). He even broached the process for replacing himself as governor – a sure sign that the deal is as good as sealed.

"I want to serve my state to the highest possible position I can," Manchin said. "(There are) a lot of important things not just for my state, but for this nation. I look forward to having the opportunity to serve."

Source: Washington Post

 

WV-01: Tea-Party Vs. Blue-Dog?

 

Former State Senator, Mike Oliverio (D-WV), recently beat out 14-term incumbent Alan Mollohan for the Democratic Party's nomination for the West Virginia 1st Congressional District.  Although voter-turnout was somewhere around the dismal range of 20-25% (possibly less), the Oliverio-Mollohan match-up was one of the first exciting elections of 2010.  No doubt this will be a year that incumbents in Congress, specifically Democrats, will have a harder time getting re-elected.  Alan Mollohan had problems with Oliverio's negative campaign ads (specifically his disregard for paying taxes and subsequent forclosure on a home in North Carolina).

Mollohan's reign in the first district will end, and this battle royale for the Congressional seat will pit Oliverio against the Repulican nominee David McKinley.  McKinley is a Wheeling businessman.

The 2010 election marked Mollohan's first legitimate challenge to his Congressional seat since 1992 when redistricting efforts pitted him against 2nd District Rep. Harley Staggers, D-W.Va.

The congressman ran a relatively lethargic campaign until recently, when he began airing TV ads calling Oliverio dangerously conservative and bad for business and labor. Oliverio, in contrast, campaigned aggressively since entering the race in January.

Oliverio will face Republican David McKinley in the November election.

McKinley emerged from a bog of GOP candidates, claiming about 35 percent of the 1st District vote. He downed Mac Warner by about 3,500 votes. Sarah Minear finished third with 21 percent (8,428). Tom Stark, Patricia Vangilder Levenson and Cindy Hall netted less than 10 percent each.

Source:  Parkersburg News

 The Parkersburg News recently had all of the Congressional candidates write a column for the paper detailing why they were the worthy candidate for the position.  McKinley, whom I didn't have extensive knowledge about, appeared repping the tea-party mantra

It's time to change the political culture of Washington. All across America, people are rejecting the liberal Obama-Pelosi agenda. We're tired of excessive spending, government takeovers, and the "war on coal." It's time to send someone to Washington who will stand up for West Virginia values.

A lot of people who supported Mollohan during the primary regarded Oliverio as a Blue-Dog, or even a DINO. Oliverio is a co-chair of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), something which Mollohan called out as a right-wing organization.  Oliverio had this to say in his Letter to the Editor Column

Mollohan has centered his television advertising around my leadership role in what he calls a right-wing organization. The truth is, it is a non-partisan professional organization of almost 2,000 legislators from across the country founded on the principles of Thomas Jefferson.

The organization his ads reference is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization previously chaired by Joe Manchin, a person that I believe has served our state admirably. Former ALEC executive director Alan Smith has written a letter to newspapers in the Northern District expressing nothing short of outrage that Alan Mollohan would smear an organization that seeks to offer model legislation aimed at protecting individual liberties and keeping jobs in the United States.

Joe Manchin is the current Democratic Governor of West Virginia, whose term ends soon and will most likely be vying for the Senate seat that will probably be vacated by long time serving Senator Robert C. Byrd. 

My prediction is that Mike Oliverio will carry the district and win the election in November, but time will show how McKinley crafts his campaign.  If Oliverio was able to unseat such a long-term incumbent, I'd say his chances are looking pretty good.

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