WHEELING - Only one local congressman supported "cap and trade" legislation - intended to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants - as it passed the U.S. House Friday.
U.S. Rep. Zack Space, D-Ohio, was among those voting "yes," as were eight Republicans who broke with party lines.
Space had been uncommitted throughout the week on how he would vote on "cap and trade." Messages left with Space's office Friday night seeking comment on his vote were not returned.
But 44 other Democrats voted against the White House-backed legislation. Among them were Alan Mollohan and Nick Rahall, both D-W.Va., and Charles Wilson, D-Ohio. All had previously indicated their opposition to "cap and trade."
Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., joined with 168 Republicans in voting against the legislation, and she spoke out on the House floor during three hours of debate Friday.
"At a time when families are already struggling just to meet basic needs, the last thing we need is a new energy tax on all consumers," Capito said. "Yet that's what the majority's bill amounts to.
"It's a $646 billion national energy tax that will burden consumers, burden businesses and particularly burden our lower-income families. It picks regional winners and losers, with coal-dependent manufacturing states like West Virginia bearing the brunt of this bill."
She urged support for her own legislation, calling for an "all-of-the-above energy plan" in which royalties from offshore energy exploration would be used to fund investments in clean energy technologies.
"We all want cleaner sources of fuel and more efficient energy use, but this cap and trade bill is not the right way forward," Capito commented.
Wilson said members of the House "worked very hard to come up with the kind of energy reform bill that will both reduce greenhouse gases and lead our country to energy independence."
"Both are goals that I support," he continued. "Progress on the bill in the House was encouraging, but I felt it didn't go far enough to protect energy consumers and industries in my district. I believe that coal must and will play a major role in our nation's transition to energy independence."
Wilson noted that 86 percent of Ohio's electricity comes from coal.
"And the vast majority of that coal comes from Appalachian Ohio," he said. "Because we are located in an area of the country that heavily relies on coal to turn on the lights and heat our homes, Ohio families and her energy intensive industries - like steel - will bear the brunt of the cost from this version of climate change legislation."
The Congressional Budget Office has released estimates showing that the proposed "cap and trade" provisions of the climate bill would cost $22 billion a year by 2020.
It's assumed by the CBO that these costs would be passed on to consumers, with the projected price being $175 per household annually.
But the costs would be greater is such states as West Virginia and Ohio, where more than 98 percent of energy is produced from coal. Likewise, the cost would be less in California, where much less coal is used.