Public opinion - at least, that of West Virginians - does not seem to have any effect on the Environmental Protection Agency. Officials there are determined to carry on with President Barack Obama's war on coal and affordable electricity, no matter what.
Still, it can't hurt to let the EPA know how we feel about planned new rules on carbon dioxide emissions. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., thinks an outpouring of comments from West Virginians might even make a difference.
Manchin is urging his constituents to speak out on the EPA's plan, which, if carried through, would devastate states such as ours and others when coal mining and use are major component of the economy.
If you want to tell the EPA how you feel, various methods of communication are available. One is email, using a special government program.
To do that, send your email message to A-and-R-Docket@epa.gov. The subject line of your message should include the words "docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602."
Again, EPA officials have been aggressive in making it clear coal-state opinons don't count in Washington. During a nationwide "listening tour" of public hearings on carbon emissions proposals, the agency did not hold a single event in West Virginia or any other coal state - despite the fact such regions would be affected more than several of the places where hearings were held.
Many utilities already have revealed plans to close coal-fired power plants if the EPA's proposal is implemented. Scores of coal-fired generating units already have been shut down.
If the EPA proceeds, tens of millions of Americans will not have access to low-priced electricity from coal. They will be forced to buy power generated by other means, including natural gas. That will mean higher electric bills - possibly twice what they are now for some people.
In addition to the burden that will place on tens of millions of American families' budgets, the move will affect industries that use substantial amounts of electricity. Here in the Ohio Valley, one major employer, the Ormet Corp. at Hannibal, Ohio, already has closed down in part because of high costs for electricity.
Manchin's suggestion certainly cannot hurt. But if you follow his advice and contact the EPA to comment, do something else:?Call your friends and relatives in other states, who may not be aware of what the EPA plan will mean to them, and have them join in condemning the proposal.