In the final year of his remarkable life, Robert C. Byrd, the longest serving senator in U.S. history, did one more remarkable thing. He called for serious dialogue on coal, climate change, and the effects of mountaintop removal mining.
“To deny the mounting science of climate change is to stick our heads in the sand and say ‘deal me out,'” Byrd told his fellow West Virginians late in 2009. And on the EPA’s efforts to rein in the most egregious damage from mountaintop removal, he said, “West Virginians may demonstrate anger towards the EPA … but we risk the very probable consequence of shouting ourselves out of any productive dialogue.”
Briefly, there was hope that the mountain state’s elder statesman might pull local politics away from a dead-end logic. Very briefly.
“I’ll shoot it if I have to!”Sen. Byrd died in June. By October, the man who would replace him in the Senate thumbed his nose at Byrd’s desire for reasoned discourse and picked up a gun.
Joe Manchin, West Virginia’s two-term governor and now senator-elect, loads the chamber of a hunting rifle in his now famous ... Read more