Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is making millions from a private coal company even as he fights public health efforts that would raise costs for the coal industry, Senate financial disclosure records reveal. Manchin’s first speech in Congress was an attack on the Environmental Protection Agency for trying to fight the crime of mountaintop removal mining. Manchin opposes EPA regulation of greenhouse pollution, produced disproportionately from burning coal. Last week, Manchin lashed out at Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the billionaire’s contribution to a campaign to shut down toxic coal-fired power plants. As Greenwire reports, his reckless boosterism for coal polluters is highly self-serving:
On his financial disclosures for 2009 and 2010, Manchin reported significant earnings from Enersystems Inc., a coal brokerage that he helped run before his political star rose. In the 19 months before winning his Senate seat in a hard-fought special election, Manchin reported operating income of $1,363,916 from Enersystems. His next disclosure showed $417,255 in Enersystems income.
Manchin defended the dirty coal income, saying there’s no conflict of interest because his fortune is in a “blind trust.”
Manchin’s critics back in West Virginia, who live with the devastation the corrupt coal industry has wreaked on the state’s land and people, aren’t convinced.
“I certainly think that his perspective is very much skewed because of his connections to industry,” Cindy Rank, a long-time opponent of mountaintop removal in West Virginia, told Greenwire.
“He’s been nothing but a mouthpiece for the coal industry his whole public life,” said Jim Sconyers, chairman of West Virginia’s Sierra Club chapter.