West Virginians have a right to expect our delegation in Congress will be united in defending the state's all-important coal industry. They are not, however - especially in the Senate, where unity is more critical than in the House of Representatives.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has been a staunch, no-holds-barred defender of coal. That is despite the fact his party's president and leaders in the Senate have joined in a multi-pronged assault aimed at destroying the industry.
But Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has been noticeably unreliable.
A bill to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from using new carbon emissions rules to cripple the coal industry has been introduced in the Senate. Manchin is a co-sponsor.
Rockefeller opposes that bill. He prefers another one that would delay the EPA for just two years.
His argument against the stronger bill is absurd. He claims it would bar the EPA permanently "from doing its job."
It would do no such thing - and Rockefeller of all people ought to understand that. What Congress gives it can take away at any time, and that includes limits on the EPA.
Rockefeller's vote and his support are important to the coal industry. We cannot understand why he will not provide it, and join a united front to defend coal.