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Senator Byrd is Ready to Negotiate

12/08/09

A few days ago, Senator Byrd announced that “to deny the mounting science of climate change is to stick our heads in the sand”. This is more than big news. Even before Waxman-Markey came before the House of Representatives for a vote in the summer, many Republicans and Democratics have been very critical of any climate legislation bill; in fact, the most vocal opponents were the Senators from places with a large number of people employed by coal, gasoline, and other related industries.

Senator Byrd has set a precedent for other Senators. By acknowledging that climate change is real and a threat, and by acknowledging the need for fossil fuel industries to invest in clean energy, Senator Byrd has shown that he wants to negotiate and pass a climate legislation bill.

The reason it is so important that Senator Byrd is willing to work on a climate bill is that no one thought he wanted to pass a bill. West Virginia is a state with large and powerful mining and coal industries. These companies need to be in the discussion in a positive way. Instead of denying climate change and denying any need to change, Senator Byrd has forced those companies to think about their business model and draft possible solutions to their fossil fuel emissions.

Senator Byrd understands very well that climate issues are directly linked to economic issues. In a prepared statement, Senator Byrd said that “the future of coal and indeed of our total energy picture lies in change and innovation. In fact, the future of American industrial power and our economic ability to compete globally depends on our ability to advance energy technology.”

If West Virginia does not change, others will change first, and West Virginians will lose in the long run.

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