WHEELING - U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller said Tuesday that he does not believe a climate change bill will see the light of day in 2010.
Rockefeller, D-W.Va., in town to discuss recently passed congressional bills with numerous local groups, said the legislative calendar is already filled with other issues that take priority over climate change.
"We just finished health care, and it isn't even entirely finished yet," he said. "We are going into jobs, we are going to regulate Wall Street because they have misbehaved very badly, and we are going to focus on education."
Rockefeller said that eventually the question of energy will arise, and he will be leading the fight to make sure West Virginia has a say in the matter.
"I'm fighting very hard for West Virginia coal," he said. "I went to a meeting at the White House the other day, and I made my views very clear that this has to work for West Virginia."
Though proposed "cap and trade" legislation may elicit negative feelings from West Virginians, Rockefeller said the uncertainty of what a bill on cap and trade would do has created some of that hostility.
"I will tell you that there are not 10 percent of people in Congress, either house, that can give you three paragraphs that make any sense on what cap and trade is," he said. "A lot of the phone calls I get refer to 'captain trade,' but I don't blame anybody for that."
Rockefeller said people tend to forget that the practices of cap and trade, which would place caps on harmful industrial emissions, were used in the 1970s and 1980s to solve the acid rain problem, adding that some good could come from cap and trade.
"It can be good or it can be bad," he said. "If it is not good, I'm going to vote against it, and I may vote against it anyway unless it helps and preserves West Virginia's coal status."
Rockefeller also spoke of legislation that he, along with U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, sponsored that would prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from determining what happens to stationary facilities like power plants. He added that the pressure for natural gas to act as a substitute for coal makes issues like cap and trade and climate change tricky.
"People seem to think that if you are for cap and trade you are against coal, or if you are not against it you are for coal," he said. "Nothing is as easy as that. You can't do things too quickly, particularly something that is as big as climate change."