The conservative group American Energy Alliance is pulling TV and radio ads attacking Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall of West Viriginia as the Mountain State struggles to get safe water back to almost 300,000 people — more than 15 percent of its population — after a chemical spill last week.
"Given the more pressing concern facing West Virginians as a result of the recent chemical spill in the Elk River, the American Energy Alliance is pulling our three-week initiative to promote accountability for Rep. Nick Rahall over his vote to support a carbon tax," said AEA President Tom Pyle.
He went on to say that the group, which is backed by fossil-fuel companies and the conservative Koch brothers, will instead help the state's residents. "While we remain staunchly opposed to a carbon tax and committed to holding public officials accountable, now is not the time for this advertisement. Our efforts in the next several weeks in West Virginia are more rightly directed at helping families in the affected region."
Rahall is considered one of the most vulnerable lawmakers up for reelection this cycle. He is one of the last remaining Democrats in a state that has been trending red in recent years, due in part to tougher environmental regulations targeting coal, a bedrock industry for the state. The spill was caused by a chemical that is used to clean coal before it goes to market. On Monday, West Virginia Gov. Earl Tomblin announced that the tap-water ban is being lifted for parts of the state, according to AP.
AEA spokesman Ben Cole said they're still deciding whether they will run this particular ad against Rahall in the future, or whether they will air a different one once the state recovers from the chemical spill.