Hurricane Sandy And Climate Change: West Virginia Leaders, Politicians Remain Silent

An ambulance is stuck in over a foot of snow off of Highway 33 West, near Belington, W.Va. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Beli
An ambulance is stuck in over a foot of snow off of Highway 33 West, near Belington, W.Va. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Belington, W.Va. Superstorm Sandy buried parts of West Virginia under more than a foot of snow on Tuesday, cutting power to at least 264,000 customers and closing dozens of roads. At least one death was reported. The storm not only hit higher elevations hard as predicted, communities in lower elevations got much more than the dusting of snow forecasters had first thought from a dangerous system that also brought significant rainfall, high wind gusts and small-stream flooding. (AP Photo/Robert Ray)

Climate change has largely been placed on the back-burner by the national political conversation, and the same seems to be true amongst West Virginia politicians according to The Charleston Gazette.

After the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy, Gazette reporters asked West Virginia office holders and candidates what could be done to prevent such damage in the future, only to receive the silent treatment.

Only one West Virgina politician has responded on the issue of climate change: Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., who has advocated waiting to implement stricter emissions limitations until more efficient energy technology is developed that could improve management of carbon dioxide waste.

"The wiser course is to find ways to address the challenges of burning coal in a potentially changing world, and the United States ought to lead in that effort so that we can reap the benefits of research and development combined with the existing world market that is in need of more efficient energy technologies," Rahall told The Gazette.

The lack of attention on climate change isn't only an issue in West Virginia, as politicians have consistently remained silent or even joked off climate change as a non-issue.

But after Sandy made landfall, the silence was broken as President Obama addressed climate and began his tours in the northeast.

“We are here for you, and we will not forget,” the president said in a message according to the New York Daily News. “We will follow up to make sure that you get all the help that you need until you rebuilding.”

This gesture and Obama's visits to the region prompted New York City's independent mayor, Michael Bloomberg, to voice his vote for the President.

Though Obama's administration has taken some major steps towards emissions and pollution control, many scientists believe that we are behind in making major change on climate issues.

"The irony is that the two presidential candidates decided not to speak about climate change, and now they are seeing the climate speak to them," Mike Tidwell, director of Maryland's Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the author of the 2006 book The Ravaging Tide told Huffpost Live. "That's really what's happening here. The climate is now speaking to them -- and to everyone else."

West Virginia current storm damage includes 6 deaths and still has 99,000 people without electricity with nearly 3 feet of snow.

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