WHEELING - He is not yet back to work in the Senate chamber, but U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd is opposing "cap and trade" legislation pushed by the Obama administration.
The 91-year-old Byrd, D-W.Va., was released from an unidentified Washington, D.C. hospital last week after a month-long stay for a staph infection. He expects to return to the chamber before the Senate begins debate on "cap and trade" - which is tentatively set for this fall, according to Byrd's office.
"I cannot support the House bill in its present form," Byrd said in a statement. "I continue to believe that clean coal can be a 'green' energy. Those of us who understand coal's great potential in our quest for energy independence must continue to work diligently in shaping a climate bill that will ensure access to affordable energy for West Virginians. I remain bullish about the future of coal, and am so very proud of the miners who labor and toil in the coalfields of West Virginia."
Protesters of a climate change bill rally in front of the Federal Building in Huntington, W.Va.
Byrd grew up in the coalfields of Stotesbury, W.Va., in Raleigh County. Jesse Jacobs, spokesman for Byrd, said the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will begin marking up the "cap and trade" bill later this month, with floor debate scheduled for September or October.
"So it is our hope that yes, Sen. Byrd will be here to vote on the legislation," Jacobs continued. "His return will be determined by his doctors and family members."
"Cap and trade" legislation - also known as House Resolution 2454 - is intended to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants over the next 40 years. It establishes a program that allows pollution permits to be bought and sold. The measure narrowly passed the U.S. House on June 26 by a vote of 219-212.