A chemical spill has left 300.000 residents without water for days and most still don't believe state authorities who say it's now safe to turn on the tap water.
But at a fundraiser held last night, in Washington, D.C., sponsored by "The Coalition Of The American Chemistry Council, Clean Coal And Sparkling Oil," Senator Joe Manchin Jr. III left no doubt that he wasn't affected by calls for new regulations for the chemical industry.
He told the assembled group that coal, chemical, and oil companies were "under siege" by "environmental do-gooders and fanatical EPA regulators."
"Sometimes you just feel like everyone's turned against you," he exclaimed to the tuxedo and evening dress clad group who were dining on 5 pound Maine lobsters and drinking 2005 Vieux Château Certan.
This morning, when contacted by the press, the "Chemical Senator" expanded on last evening's remarks. He pointed out that coal and chemicals carry heavy risks when stored in rusty, old tanks, or when they're mined close to watersheds.
"But regulators and environmentalists want to stop all coal mining , oil exploration, and close down every chemical plant. I'm just not going to let that happen, " stated the W. Va. Senator.
When asked who it was that advocated such extreme action to protect the environment Manchin Jr.III was silent.
Five major incidents in eight years involving coal and chemical industries have occurred in the state.
Manchin Jr.III has called for the repeal of the Clear Air Act because, "it negatively effects free enterprise, when coal companies blast mountains and can't dump debris into valley watersheds."
"Of course streams turn acidic, water tables are polluted, all the fish die, and the quality of life for people in the areas is horrible. But we think it's worth it because enforcing regulations is socialistic."
When asked if workers in the chemical plants, coal mining operations, oil refineries weren't frequently underpaid and there were high industrial accident rates in his state, "Chemical Joe" responded,
"That may be true, but in this economy they're lucky to have jobs even if they're risking life and limb. But if they don't like it in W. Va they can always go to another state to try and find work. Good luck with that!"