West Virginia is a heavy coal state. So it's not a shock to see one of its senators, Jay Rockefeller, introducing a bill that would freeze EPA regulations over greenhouse gases for a few years, since those rules could well make it impossible to build new dirty coal plants anywhere in the country. (Rockefeller insists he doesn't want to kill the EPA's authority altogether, the way Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski does; he just wants a few years' delay.) And his bill could pass if enough Republicans and conservative Democrats sign on.

But what is surprising is that Rockefeller's West Virginia colleague, Robert Byrd, said today that he won't support the bill. In a statement, Byrd explained that he was satisfied by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson's earlier promise to move slowly on regulating power plants and factories. What's more, he added, "I am reluctant to give up on talks that might produce benefits for West Virginia's coal interests by seeming to turn away from on-going negotiations." That's... surprising coming from Byrd, who for a long time has been one of the most ardent opponents of any and all carbon regulations.

Anyway, this is a good time to link to Jesse Zwick's piece on why Byrd has recently transformed from coal's biggest defender to taking a somewhat more moderate stance on the issue. His latest move is definitely in line with that shift.