I like the “Soprano in the Senate” comment. Senator Byrd, like Tony Soprano, apparently uses his position to take care of his “people”, regardless of who get hurt in the process (including other West Virginians). According to studies requisitioned by EPA, Coal pollution each year kills 24,000 Americans, and most of them live east of the Mississippi, many of them in West Virginia. Let’s say it’s just 500 a year in WV, that’s still a lot more people than Tony Soprano is likely to kill in his lifetime. Of course, the series is ending soon, but coal pollution is not, thanks to people like Senator Byrd. Of course Byrd himself will be ending soon, he turns 90 in November. Byrd could even conceivably become president in his lifetime. Pelosi and Cheney obviously hate each other. If they were to have an old-fashion Burr / Hamilton type duel and kill each other and say George tried to save his brain (i.e. Cheney) by stepping in front of the bullet, and got himself killed, Byrd would automatically be President, as he is currently president pro tempore. When that happens that’s when I move to Canada.About the calculus of the switch at the capitol: would gas be that much healthier? Since natural gas (methane) is a powerful greenhouse gas itself, and it's combustion also gives off greenhouse gases, how much better than coal would it be? I googled and found an answer on the UCS website (yes, you have caught me spreading a little gospel from an anti-nuke site). http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/fossil_fuels/offmen-how-natural-gas-works.html[Environmental Issues - Although natural gas is a fossil fuel and so is made up mostly of carbon, global warming emissions from gas are much less than coal or oil. Compared to coal, gas produces 43 percent fewer carbon emissions for each unit of energy produced, and 30 percent less than oil. Gas also produces no solid waste, unlike the massive amounts of ash from a coal plant, and very little sulfur dioxide and particulate emissions.On the other hand, the combustion of gas still produces nitrogen oxides, a cause of smog and acid rain. And while carbon emissions are lower, natural gas itself is a powerful greenhouse gas. Natural gas (methane) is much more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, 58 times more effective on a pound-for-pound basis. Methane concentrations have increased eight times faster than carbon dioxide, doubling since the beginning of the industrial age. Natural gas use has accounted for about 10 percent of all global warming emissions.]So gas looks significantly better for GHGs if excerpt below is accurate. From my perspective, gas has no soot / FPP emmissions, so on this point alone I would argue that gas is a much healthier heating source than coal. I can attest of this personally having heated my home with both coal and gas. But substantively the pollution associated with heating the capital affects the health of very few people, and it could be argued that right now the country would be better off without the people whose health it would most effect. No, what Byrd is afraid of is the symbolic / political impact. It would send a message across the country, from sea to smog-covered sea, that coal energy is a toxic, unhealthy energy source, and it should be eliminated whenever and wherever possible. That is the reason Byrd is joining with Republicans to fight the heating system change at the capitol.
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