The Wheeling "newspaper" monopoly has always had a soft spot for Shelley Moore Capito as it did for her father, the late-governor. Whether campaigning or working in Congress, the coverage of Capito has been almost all positive. For example, in last year's senatorial election, Capito scored 429 column inches of coverage (almost all of it positive coverage) to Natalie Tennant's 389 column inches (most of it negative). And in some cases, calling it positive reporting was an understatement. (See, for instance, the Intelligencer's enthusiastic coverage for Capito's campaign visit to Wheeling last October which was worthy of a Republican presidential visit.)
Yesterday's local "newspapers" continued this biased reporting by giving front-page coverage to a bill whose reason for existence was to get favorable publicity for its primary sponsor - Senator Shelley Moore Capito. On Wednesday the senator introduced the Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act which is intended to severely limit the EPA's ability to regulate coal-fired power plants. The Intelligencer begins by describing her dedication, even in the face of likely defeat:
WHEELING - Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is not worried about President Barack Obama potentially vetoing her Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act, as she is too concerned about the thousands of jobs she and several colleagues believe his Environmental Protection Agency's "assault on coal" will eliminate. . . .
"I am proud to lead the charge against the Clean Power Plan's sweeping regulations and look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to move this very important legislation forward."
Later in the article she receives special praise from Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the head of the Senate Energy Committee (and infamous climate change denier) James Inhofe. "Wow," we are supposed to exclaim -- "there's Shelley making a name for herself and fighting for all West Virginians regardless of the consequences."Except that this bill isn't going anywhere and not because it would not get the necessary votes in the senate to overcome Obama's veto. While McConnell and Inhofe can say nice things about it, this is not going to be the bill that Republicans will ultimately use to attack the President and the EPA. Sorry, Shelley, but freshman senators do not pull that kind of weight. Want evidence? Google "Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act" + "Associated Press" to see how the AP has covered the bill. It hasn't. Obviously the AP knows that this is not a real (read - it will be acted upon) bill.
If you drop the AP and just google the act under "web" you will get a couple of hits in West Virginia. (Again, if this were a real bill wouldn't there be some Kentucky coverage?) A number of those sites link to Capito's website which suggests that they are simply reporting what Capito has said and done.
Yes, the Charleston Gazette covered the bill in their business section and reporter David Gutman pointed to an interesting provision in the act:
But a section near the end of the bill, not touted by Capito in either her news release or her office’s explainer, would simply invalidate the entire Clean Power Plan, with no provisions.
“The following rules shall be of no force or effect, and shall be treated as though the rules had never been issued,” the bill says, going on to list the proposed EPA rules regulating greenhouse gases from both new and existing power plants.
Capito, when asked about it, said that she didn't see it that way. On the other hand Senator Inhofe, had a different perspective:
But Sen. Jim Inhofe, a co-sponsor of the bill and chair of the Senate environment committee, said the bill would repeal the Clean Power Plan in its entirety.
“Yes, Sec. 6 repeals current climate reg proposals,” Inhofe posted on Twitter. Inhofe said the provisions restrict any future action the EPA could potentially take.
Finally, I was going to note that the article did something unusual for an Intelligencer article on the EPA - it gave a few sentences to the other side:
However, officials with the environmental lobbying group "Earthjustice" called Capito's bill "an attempt to "trick families across our country into believing that 'big coal' has their best interests at heart."
"The decline of coal is a reality - not because of environmental safeguards, but because of decreased demand for coal and low natural gas prices that are out-competing it," Earthjustice Vice President of Policy and Legislation Marty Hayden said. "There is overwhelming evidence to show that the Clean Power Plan can spur innovation and new jobs, strengthen the reliability of our electrical grid and protect the health of our families and communities, if Congress is willing to give it a chance."
And then I checked the Earthjustice site and read what was in-between the two sentences quoted by Hicks:
Among the poison pills in the Capito bill is a provision that would essentially allow the mere filing of litigation by polluters and other opponents of the Clean Power Plan to indefinitely delay its implementation while the world warms.
Nice. The Intelligencer skips Inhofe's point on the bill's real intention and then edits a similar conclusion out of the quote from Earthjustice. Yeah, this article is not just good publicity for Capito; it also serves the Intelligencer's higher purpose of being the area's chief propaganda vehicle for the coal companies and the Republican Party. Objectivity and truth be damned -- the Intelligencer has a mission to fulfill.