Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the Republican nominee for president, is ahead of Vice President Al Gore in the traditionally Democratic state of West Virginia, largely because of the Clinton administration’s anti-coal environmental policies, political analysts say.
“Gore’s embracing of the absurd global-warming treaty directly threatens every mine worker’s job, making a lot of miners and those employed in numerous support industries likely to vote Republican for the first time” in 72 years, said Keith Appell, a Republican media strategist.
The administration has proposed complying with the global-warming treaty by phasing out coal-fired power plants, which are heavy emitters of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas thought to cause global warming. Such plants currently provide half of the electricity in the United States.
Besides giving Mr. Bush the rare opportunity to win West Virginia, the policy undermines support for Mr. Gore in critical swing states where coal is mined, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, and could sap support from electricity consumers around the country, Mr. Appell said.
“Gore remains committed to a fossil-fuelless vision of the future that has already done great damage to West Virginia,” said the Charleston Daily Mail, West Virginia’s leading newspaper, in an editorial Oct. 5.
The vice president conceded in a recent letter to the United Mine Workers that his environmental policies would cost West Virginia jobs. To win the union’s endorsement, Mr. Gore promised “some kind of job program to deal with it,” the newspaper said. “That’s thin soup indeed.”
The newspaper said the administration’s stance on global warming will cost Mr. Gore West Virginia and possibly the election.
Mr. Appell said many mine workers will vote against Mr. Gore, despite the union endorsement. He said union leaders engineered the endorsement as “window dressing” for Mr. Gore.
West Virginia’s Republican governor, Cecil H. Underwood, in a recent radio address lashed out at the global-warming treaty.
The treaty “would devastate coal mining in my state and several other states in Appalachia and the mountains of the west,” the governor said.