President Obama’s campaign vow to “bankrupt” the coal industry may “bankrupt” Democratic control of the Senate instead. A new survey by SNL Energy finds that 7,500 coal miners lost their jobs in the last quarter. The numbers will only grow as the Environmental Protection Agency’s anti-coal rule takes effect. The United Mine Workers union estimates 300,000 jobs will be lost, and this makes it hard for Democrats in coal country, including Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia, to get a good night’s sleep.
Alison Grimes, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky, wants to have it both ways. “When I’m in the U.S. Senate,” the challenger to Sen. Mitch McConnell says, “I will fiercely oppose the president’s attack on Kentucky’s coal industry, because protecting our jobs will be my No. 1 priority.” But when she had a chance to stand up for the coal miners at a Capitol Hill fundraiser last week, she lost her voice.
The word “coal” never crossed Mrs. Grimes’ lips in an 11-minute speech to the high-dollar gathering, attended by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, according to Politico, the Capitol Hill daily, which obtained an audiotape of her remarks. Mr. Reid, just a day earlier, blocked the Republicans’ first attempts to defang if not derail those regulations.
“Coal keeps the lights on in the Commonwealth,” Mrs. Grimes says when she’s in her fighting clothes, “providing a way for thousands of Kentuckians to put food on their tables.” Gina McCarthy, administrator of the Environmental Protection Administration, on the other hand, seems oblivious to the prospect of empty plates on Kentucky tables. She mocks critics of the regulations as “special-interest skeptics who cry the sky is falling.”
She justifies a job-killing rule because harmless carbon dioxide — it’s the stuff we all exhale — is causing the planet to overheat, melting the polar ice caps and drowning polar bears.
Dire predictions of balmy weather at the South Pole haven’t come true; the global thermostat has held steady since 1996. On the other hand, predictions of lost jobs have come true. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, eliminating coal as one of the most affordable sources of energy will cost the economy annually $51 billion and eliminate 224,000 jobs. Functional coal-fired plants currently generate 40 percent of America’s energy needs, so closing them in favor of inefficient and expensive alternatives will make electricity far more expensive for both homes and businesses.
The sky Ms. McCarthy spoke of could fall on Natalie Tennant, the Democratic candidate for an open Senate seat in West Virginia, who vows that she, too, will “stand up to President Obama, Gina McCarthy and anyone else who tries to undermine our coal jobs.”
If both Mrs. Grimes and Mrs. Tennant win their races, reclaiming the Senate by Republicans will be difficult. The first vote of Democrats in their caucus will be to re-elect Mr. Reid as leader. This is the same Harry Reid who calls coal “dirty” and says, “Coal makes us sick.” Nevada has no coal miners, so Mr. Reid takes no personal risk as the loyal lieutenant in President Obama’s war on affordable energy.
Mr. Obama has a considerable string of broken campaign promises, and it’s a pity that bankrupting the coal industry is the only one he may keep. Sorry, indeed, is the plight of red-state Democrats who must pretend they won’t be soldiers in the president’s war.