The coal industry is a pretty big deal in several states that could serve as electoral battlefields next year. Kentucky is among them.
Even though Democrats believe that have a chance to pickoff Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell next year, President Barack Obama handed him a huge gift last week when he rolled out his anti-consumer energy plan, which is being labeled by opponents as a “war on coal.” Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, another coal producing state, took it even further, calling President Obama’s a plan a “war on America.”
McConnell is seizing on President Obama’s energy plan, which completely bypasses Congress. In an op-ed to the Hazard Herald, a Kentucky-based newspaper, the Senate Minority Leader slammed the “barrage of job-killing regulations” pushed by the Obama Administration and warned Democrats of alienating “entire regions of the country” with the new environmental regulations.
“For years, I have said this administration is waging a war on coal. Now, one of the White House climate advisors has publicly admitted so, saying ‘A war on coal is exactly what’s needed,’” noted McConnell, referencing comments made by Daniel Schrag. “What an astonishing bit of honesty from a high-ranking White House official. It really encapsulates this administration’s attitude for states like Kentucky, where coal is such an important part of the economic well-being of many middle-class families, and where affordable energy is critical to the operations of many companies and small businesses and their ability to hire.”
“Declaring a war on coal is tantamount to declaring a war on jobs. The cheap, plentiful energy coal provides is critical to many Kentucky industries,” continued McConnell. “The Bluegrass State is the first in the nation in aluminum smelting. We’re third in the production of auto parts. And Kentuckians know these types of industries strengthen not just the Commonwealth, but our entire nation by providing well-paying jobs for workers and their families and boosting economic growth.”
He noted that President Obama tried and failed to pass strict in environmental regulations during his first term, what McConnell cals a “national energy tax,” and explained that those policies and the latest plan will have an adverse effect on job creation and workers’ families.
McConnell took issue with President Obama completely bypassing Congress to enact policy through “more executive orders, more czars, and more unaccountable bureaucrats.” He also noted that many Kentuckians are already having problems during median income declining and an overwhelming number of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck. “This is the reality of the Obama Economy,” he noted.
“Even in the best of times, declaring a war on coal and imposing a national energy tax would be a bad idea. But in an era of unacceptably high unemployment, launching a war on coal is mind boggling,” wrote McConnell. “The president may as well call his war on coal what it is: a war on jobs in this country, and a plan to ship jobs overseas.”
“Republicans are all for developing the fuels and the energies of the future. We think that should come about as part of an all-of-the-above strategy—let’s develop wind, solar, natural gas, oil, and coal energy resources, all of them. That’s just what the White House said it supported too, before the election,” he added. “But now, with the election over, the truth comes out from the White House: ‘A war on coal is exactly what’s needed.’”
McConnell warned that taking coal out of the national energy strategy “will have disastrous consequences for our still-recovering economy.”
The New York Times reported on Monday that Repubsitelicans see President Obama’s climate change policy as a winning issue for them in seats left open by retiring Democrats and against a number of vulnerable Democrats seeking re-election.
In 2009, Congress blocked President Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal, which would have taken asignificant toll on the economy and cost American families $1,761 each year. However, some of the aspects of his latest plan, particularly the focus “clean coal,” could have a significant economic impact in coal-producing states, much like his previous proposals.
During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama said that his environmental proposals would “bankrupt” a company that wanted to build a coal plant. He also said that “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket” under his plan.