In June of 2009, the West Virginia Legislature passed what potentially will be the largest tax increase in the history of the state. Acting in special session, the legislature passed a bill titled “Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Act” and designated it as H.B. 103. This bill was proposed by Governor Joe Manchin and was written by Carte Goodwin who is now the appointed US Senator, filling Robert Byrd’s seat until the election in November.
H.B. 103 was passed with a party line vote in the legislature: All Democratic Senators voted for it, all Republican Senators voted against it; All Democrats in the House but two voted for it; all Republicans in the house but two voted against it. So we have a bill with a somewhat innocuous title proposed by the governor and passed by a Democratic, party-line vote.
So what’s the big deal? H.B.103 is a bill that is commonly referred to as a “Cap and Trade” bill or sometimes, in a derisive manner, it is referred to as a “Cap and Tax” bill. Basically, this bill will require utilities providing electricity to West Virginia customers to reduce their use of coal by 25 percent by 2025: 10 percent for the years 2015 to 2019, 15 percent for the years 2020-2024 and 25 percent for each year thereafter. Utilities will have to replace coal with renewable and alternative energy sources by those percentages each year or they have two choices: buy credits or pay “Assessment Fees”, which are essentially a tax. Of course these taxes will be passed on to residential and industrial customers.
Not only will customers see rate hikes for the electricity, they will also see inflation of other products and services in West Virginia due to increased energy costs. You are probably thinking, how could a bill of this importance and such huge magnitude be there and you have probably never heard or knew about it? Sure, you’ve heard about the Federal “Cap and Trade” bill that Obama, Reid and Pelosi are pushing but did you know that you now live in the only state in the US that already has its own version?
If Obama has his way, you will get hit by two “Cap and Trade” bills. Feeling lucky? I urge you to go on line and take a look at this bill and also take a look at the final roll call votes in the House and Senate to see who your real friends are. The citizens of Logan and Mingo Counties will be interested to know that the West Virginia Cap and Trade bill was approved by Truman Chafin, Harry Keith White, Steve Kominar, Earl Ray Tomblin, Ralph Rodighiero, Greg Butcher, Jeff Eldridge, and Josh Stowers. This bill was not opposed by the West Virginia Coal Association, coal companies, UMWA, AFLCIO or the Chamber of Commerce.
Joe Manchin’s Cap and Trade bill slid quietly through the legislature in a special session, called by the Governor and with an agenda set by the Governor, with overwhelming Democratic support.
This begs many questions:
1. Why would a governor in a state highly dependent on coal propose such a bill?
2. Why would the governor who has the only state cap and trade bill in the US say that he is opposed to cap and trade?
3. Why would the media report that Manchin is opposed to cap and trade?
4. Why would the State and National Chambers of Commerce endorse Manchin, citing his opposition to cap and trade and knowing this will make West Virginia businesses less competitive?
5. Why would State Senators and members of the House of Delegates from coal producing counties like Logan and Mingo support such a bill?
6. Why would unions not oppose a jobs killing bill like this?
7. What are you, the citizens and voters of West Virginia, going to do about it? Albert Einstein gave a classic definition of insanity: “Keep doing the same thing while expecting a different result.”
Are you going to keep drinking the Democratic “Kool Aid”? Are we going to keep sending Democrats to Charleston and Washington? Do you understand why West Virginia has one of the lowest rated business climates in the US? Do you understand why West Virginia is ranked near the bottom in most categories when compared to the other states? Light come on yet?