Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., is the only member of the state's congressional delegation whose comments did not fight Obama's climate initiatives, but rather fit coal into a lower-emissions energy framework. Making "clean coal" technologies such as carbon capture affordable, Rockefeller said, is essential if coal is to have a future in the U.S. energy mix.
"What we need is a strong pivot to the future," Rockefeller said. "Our coal miners deserve, and our state and nation need, an all-out effort at every level to invest in clean coal technology. We've proven, right here in West Virginia, that clean coal can work, and we need to build on those advances."
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin applauded Obama's calls for bipartisanship and compromise in solving the nation's problems, including the national debt.
"I was pleased to hear the president strike a bipartisan and cooperative tone in his speech last night," Manchin said. "He discussed common sense priorities and a balanced approach to getting our fiscal house in order and creating American jobs. I was, however, disappointed when he refused to mention coal when he discussed controlling our energy future. I've consistently pushed for an all-of-the-above energy policy and the president must do the same. Any discussion of our nation's energy future must include coal."
Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., who represents southern West Virginia, said Obama was "absolutely wrong" in his efforts to use executive action to "circumvent the Congress.
"I intend to keep doing all that I can to promote coal and keep our miners on the job producing affordable energy for the nation."
On the other side of the aisle, Republicans from West Virginia took a tough stance against Obama's climate initiatives. Rep. David McKinley, acknowledged the phenomenon of climate change, but said he disagrees with the broad scientific consensus that humans contribute to climate change.
"Despite the inconclusive science, the president made it clear he will take action that would cause considerable damage to our already weak economy," McKinley said.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said she was frustrated at Obama's misguided economic and energy agendas, saying the president has "attacked West Virginia resources from Day One."
"He said it himself, if Congress doesn't act on climate legislation, he will," she said. "He expressly said that he would pick winners and losers in the energy economy, and we all know coal will be in the losing column."
Obama also called for improvements to energy efficiency in homes and businesses and to create an Energy Security Trust funded by oil and gas revenues to shift cars and truck off of oil.