The Democratic representative for one of the country’s biggest coal states has long been a vocal proponent of coal energy.
When US President Barack Obama announced his carbon action plan, which would put coal-fired power plants under pressure to close right across the country, Rahall called his leader’s plan “misguided, misinformed and untenable”
But in an interview with The Washington Free Beacon, IER spokesman Benjamin Cole questioned Rahall’s position on coal and whether a Democrat-driven coal lobby group he had set up would actually be effective.
“Time will tell which Nick Rahall the people of West Virginia believe more – the one with cozy ties to deep-pocketed anti-coal lobbyists or the one who claims to fight for America’s most abundant and affordable domestic energy sources,” Cole said.
The congressman is closely involved with a group of Democrats called CoalBlue Project that aims to exert pressure inside the party for a less hostile approach to coal.
On the launch of the group it released a statement that said CoalBlue sought to foster a broad, bipartisan commitment to sustainable coal as a sustainable fuel for the 21st century.
“A viable energy future can only be achieved with clean coal. We applaud the CoalBlue Project’s recognition of this very important fact and its efforts to bring more voices to the table in support of sustainable coal,” Rahall said in the joint statement with Illinois Representative Bill Enyart.
But the The Washington Free Beacon article claims that despite his pro-coal front in his home state, Rahall has a history of hiring staffers who are less friendly to coal energy during his tenures as ranking member on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and as chairman of the Natural Resources Committee.
Cole alleged that Rahall touted his energy credentials in West Virginia but courted the environmentalist base of the Democrats in Washington.
“For his entire political life, Nick Rahall has tried to walk the line between representing the interests of West Virginia coal miners and supporting the pro-environmentalist, anti-coal agenda now pushed by Barack Obama and Harry Reid,” Cole said.
“He’s the quintessential Washington insider – cutting Beltway deals to protect the perks of his seniority status in Congress while thumping his chest back home about fighting to protect coal miners and their families.”
The article did not provide any response from Rahall, who was unreachable when ILN went to press.