Under the shadow of the West Virginia coal mine disaster earlier this month, a congressional hearing Wednesday on the future of coal in a "new energy age" seemed at times like a dialogue of the deaf.
Four representatives of the coal industry appeared Wednesday before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming in an atmosphere frosty enough to lower global temperatures itself.
Committee chairman Edward Markey (D-Mass) castigated the industry representatives for resisting measures to reduce carbon emissions and compared them to auto executives who ignored the need for change until it was too late.
Markey, who is co-author of a bill passed by the House to limit greenhouse gas emissions, urged the coal industry to get on board with the efforts to fight global warming.
"Today, with the future of the coal industry in your hands, I challenge you to join us in charting a new path forward to prevent a perilous outcome for your industry and for the planet," Markey said in his opening remarks. "I ask that you cease efforts to deny the science of global warming and stop spending millions of dollars in misleading the public as to the true science behind climate change."
Markey noted that the House bill offers billions of dollars in aid to help the industry develop clean coal technology.