Joe Manchin is off to a poor start as the new Senator for West Virginia. Many of his constituents are furious he skipped out on the Senate’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) repeal vote on Saturday in order to attend a Christmas party. Meanwhile, he still finds time for pointless posturing on behalf of the coal industry.
Manchin was the only Democrat not to vote “yes” to repeal DADT, hailed as “the defining civil rights initiative of the decade”. He is facing sharp criticism in his home state for neglecting the duties of his office and hiding from tough issues.
Would he have skipped the vote if it had concerned the coal industry? His actions today suggest not. Manchin publicly released a joint letter with Senator Rockefeller to issue another complaint about the Obama administration’s efforts to reduce the damaging impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining — specifically the EPA’s ongoing efforts to veto the Clean Water Act permit for Arch Coal’s Spruce Mine, the largest such permit in West Virginia history.
It’s now mid-December and we’re still waiting on EPA boss Lisa Jackson to make a final announcement on the fate of Pigeonroost Hollow — one of the six valleys that, along with seven miles of streams, face burial by the Spruce mine in West Virginia.
It seems an obvious decision to me — the report we commissioned from Downstream Strategies earlier this year clearly shows how the proposed mining at this site violates the Clean Water Act.