John Kerry will soon be put on the spot over coal, which he has long opposed, hurting his election prospects in several coal-producing states. Senators John McCain (R-Ariz) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) are threatening to resurrect their anti-coal global warming bill in the next few weeks. Despite being soundly defeated last year, McCain, as he did with campaign finance reform, has vowed to take repeated votes on the bill until he wins.
Most stunning for energy observers is that Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.), who voted against McCain-Lieberman last year, is now contemplating supporting it. The reason? Byrd despises President Bush, and hopes that passing the bill, which Bush opposes, will embarrass the White House. But the bill spells disaster for West Virginia, destroying 50,000 coal jobs and eliminating coal as a fuel source (West Virginia gets 99% of its electricity from coal). Said one coal industry lobbyist: “Robert Byrd has lost his mind, period. When has a senator ever considered voting for a bill he knew would single-handedly destroy his state?”