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Wegner himself has donated to groups that oppose coal power. Western Resource Advocates thanked him by name for a contribution in a report that touted the group’s work in “defeat[ing] a proposal for a massive new coal-fired power plant in northern Nevada.”

A spokesman for Transportation and Infrastructure Democrats did not respond to a request for comment.

Wendy Vanasselt, who worked on the Natural Resources Committee until 2010, worked on behalf of the Wilderness Society. Another former Natural Resources Committee staffer Laurel Angell lobbied for the Defenders of Wildlife.

Christy Goldfuss lobbied on behalf of the group Environment America before joining the committee. She left in 2010 for the left-wing Center for American Progress, where she has criticized the use of public lands for coal mining.

The environmentalist backgrounds of some of Rahall’s committee staffers have industry groups questioning whether CoalBlue will meaningfully change Democrats’ outlook on coal power.

“Time will tell which Nick Rahall the people of West Virginia believe more – the one with cozy ties to deep-pocketed anti-coal lobbyists or the one who claims to fight for America’s most abundant and affordable domestic energy sources,” said Benjamin Cole, spokesman for the Institute for Energy Research.

Cole alleged that Rahall touts his energy credentials in coal-heavy West Virginia, but courts Democrats’ environmentalist base in Washington.

“For his entire political life, Nick Rahall has tried to walk the line between representing the interests of West Virginia coal miners and supporting the pro-environmentalist, anti-coal agenda now pushed by Barack Obama and Harry Reid,” Cole told the Washington Free Beacon.

“He’s the quintessential Washington insider—cutting Beltway deals to protect the perks of his seniority status in Congress while thumping his chest back home about fighting to protect coal miners and their families,” Cole added.

Lachlan Markay is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. His Twitter handle is @lachlan. His email address is