By HOPPY KERCHEVAL

MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia got some good news recently from the state's newest U.S. Senator. Sen. Joe Manchin told reporters that he had assurances from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that cap-and-trade would not be taken up by the next Congress.

So Manchin, who famously used a rifle to shoot a hole in the cap-and-trade bill during the campaign, can confidently blow the smoke from the hot barrel.

Take that, Washington.

Except that inside The Beltway, the targets are constantly shifting. A pronouncement of the death of the plan to limit carbon emissions in an attempt to impact climate, and raise prodigious amounts of money, often just means that the debate has moved to another front.

True believers in the necessity to tax carbon and move away from coal are now going "all in" with the EPA. After all, the agency has a U.S. Supreme Court decision (Massachusetts v. EPA) saying it has an obligation under the Clean Air Act to reverse global warming, otherwise the rising tides of Boston Harbor will one day make Beacon Hill look like Venice.

The Supreme Court majority conveniently ignored the possibility that since the EPA is a federal agency, perhaps the Congress—the representatives of the people—should have some say in the role that agency.

As the late Senator Robert Byrd once said, "The Clean Air Act was not envisioned as a response to climate change."

Still, the EPA is pushing ahead with its own plan to control the climate. Perhaps their slogan should be, "Everybody talks about the weather, but we're finally going to do something about it."

Unfortunately, the EPA's action will drive up the cost of energy and drive down the demand for coal. In addition, the EPA's crusade creates regulatory uncertainty in the coal industry, making it even more challenging for the state's number one economic engine.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller also met with Harry Reid, but published reports suggest he didn't come out with a smoking rifle.

Rockefeller is pushing for a vote on a bill that would delay the EPA's pursuit of carbon limits by two years. According to The Hill, "The meeting did not appear to result in any firm decision to take a vote."

In an earlier interview, Rockefeller said, "I have long maintained that the Congress—not the unelected EPA—must decide major economic and energy policy."

The Hill goes on to report that even Rockefeller's best efforts may not be enough. If a bill delaying the EPA does manage to pass, President Obama is certain to veto it.

Perhaps for effect, Obama could shoot a hole in the Rockefeller bill. That will ensure we get the message.

Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.

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