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The surprise of West Virginia’s Democratic senators is a back-up plan to protect the coal industry

The surprise of West Virginia’s Democratic senators is a back-up plan to protect the coal industry

After bipartisan rebuff, Manchin abandons private legislative deal to help fossil fuel projects

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s announcement Wednesday of a proposal to lift the country’s climate-change regulations was one of the most surprising in years — a back-up plan designed to protect the West Virginia coal industry while giving support to environmentally friendly energy projects.

The surprise, in part, is that it’s only now coming after the state’s Democratic senators made it clear they won’t support the plan unless it includes language to help the coal industry.

It’s a move that underscores how difficult it is to find common ground on a subject that has divided conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, for years.

The proposal is a major concession by Manchin, a longtime champion of the coal industry. The West Virginia Democrat has been at the center of a Senate split that has pitted him against his top Republican, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. He has also taken on one of Paul’s leading backers, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma.

“This is not a battle I am confident I will win, and I have been at this game for more than 20 years,” Manchin wrote in a statement on Wednesday, standing alongside fellow Democrats Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

Paul slammed Manchin’s announcement as a “sideshow on the Republican side of the aisle” and mocked the plan for not being “a bill, a compromise bill or a piece of legislation.”

“I think Senator Manchin’s statement will be a good example for other politicians, as they say, to ‘think twice’ when dealing with climate change,” Paul said in a statement, adding that the proposal “does nothing to address climate change, and doesn’t appear to help anybody but some fossil fuel interests.”

The announcement of Manchin’s plan is the latest twist in a back-

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