(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) The former Obama administration’s de facto war on coal may come back to haunt even one of the more moderate Democrats in the Senate, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin.
Clinton, when she tried to explain last year how her plans would supposedly make up for coal-industry losses, had said “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” She said that sentence was taken out of context, but Copley didn’t buy it.
“I don’t think Hillary Clinton cares about my vote,” he said – and he associated her with the policies of Obama that he said “really hamstrung us.”
So now Copley is running for Senate, saying that even if Manchin sometimes looks after coal interests, Manchin’s support for Clinton’s campaign last year and other votes for the Democratic party line “showed that he has lost touch with his constituents.”
Manchin has been popular in West Virginia, winning his last race by 24 points, but Donald Trump beat Clinton there last year by a whopping 42 points.
As Copley indicated, a major reason – indeed probably the major reason – why West Virginia turned from what had been a solidly Democratic state for decades through the 1990s into a state that votes overwhelmingly Republican for most offices is that national Democrats have been seen as hostile to coal.
Obama infamously told a San Francisco editorial board that any attempt to build a “coal-powered plant” would “bankrupt” the company building it, “because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”
As The Daily Caller reported last September:
A 2015 study found the coal industry lost 50,000 jobs from 2008 to 2012 during Obama’s first term. During Obama’s second term, the industry employment in coal mining has fallen by another 33,300 jobs, 10,900 of which occurred in the last year alone, according to federal data.
Furthermore, reported the paper, “Companies opened 103 new mines in the U.S. in 2013 while 271 coal mines were idled or shut down.”
In addition to heavily regulating the coal industry, the Obama team also halted most coal-mining leases on public lands, and “cracked down on coal mining near streams” in a move during Obama’s last five weeks in office.
Even CNN – hardly an outfit known for embarrassing Obama politically – ran a headline saying that “coal companies have been scorched by Obama.” Calling Obama “never a friend of the coal industry,” the network noted, “Since Obama took office in January 2009, shares of many coal companies have plummeted more than 90 percent. Several companies have gone bust.”
A few liberal outlets like The Huffington Post (in HuffPo’s case, repeatedly) have tried to make the case that “It’s Not Obama That’s Killing the Coal Industry,” because the “coal producers made a big, fat losing bet on overseas demand.” (Not cited was the obvious consideration that if American regulations make coal more expensive to produce, then that expense itself makes coal less attractive to overseas buyers – so, it isn’t a “free market” that is killing demand but a market facing American prices that are higher than they otherwise would be. In inflation-adjusted dollars, coal’s average price per short ton has grown from $18.91 per short ton in 2000 to about $40 today.)
As president, Trump moved rapidly to reverse Obama’s last-minute coal-stream rule, part of fulfilling a pledge he made repeatedly on the campaign trail to try to bolster the coal industry. Copley, the unemployed coal miner, hopes to attach himself to the popularity of Trump’s energy policies in West Virginia, after he showed up repeatedly during the past year in conservative outlets.