Red States, Blue Sates, Dissed States
At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, then-Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama famously started his road to the presidency with the speech that included the line: “There are no red states or blue states, just the United States.”
If only that were true. Instead, we have a president who not only shows preference to blue states, but also punishes red states and, most damaging, dismisses many other states. Democrats have followed him in lock step, especially when it comes to energy-producing states.
Democrats have totally retreated from supporting energy-producing states, as evidenced by their decision to throw Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., under the bus by not giving her the votes she wanted to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. She lost the election, and Democrats have essentially lost all their clout in the South.
If you come from a state that produces coal, you are persona non grata in the Obama White House.
Coal-producing states like Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky might as well be located on Mars when it comes to attention from Obama.
But these states and others are paying attention to the snub. Once Democratic strongholds in coal-heavy districts in West Virginia, Kentucky and Illinois are steadily turning their backs on Democrats, and these dissed states, once blue states, are turning to Republicans who support coal. The reason is obvious.
As the president uses the EPA as a club against coal and coal-fired plants, new EPA regulations are likely to cost more than 40,000 jobs in Pennsylvania alone. According to The Heritage Foundation, as a result of the EPA’s proposed rule, it could terminate 600,000 American jobs by 2023 while dampening economic growth by more than $2 trillion.
As of March 2014, there were around 79,000 jobs in coal mining in the United States, 8.3 percent fewer than a year earlier.
Coal generates 40 percent of America’s electricity — more than any other energy source. Its stable price and abundance insulates the U.S. economy from spikes in energy demand. Yet by imposing onerous emissions standards on all existing power plants, the National Mining Association estimates that more than 300 plants will retire nationwide due to EPA rules during the next six years. When mines and plants shut down, manufacturing costs rise and employment plummets.
Guess which states are getting the most attention — those blue states that support solar and wind energy. These are Obama’s energy darlings, which have received $150 billion of taxpayer money.
Maybe this explains why the solar industry employs around 143,000 people (compared with 79,000 coal mining jobs), according the Solar Energy Industries Association.
But a CBS report has found that 32 Obama-backed green energy companies have gone under, costing taxpayers more than $3 billion. Meanwhile, dozens of other companies that are on life support have received $7.5 billion from taxpayers.
So how much support have struggling coal miners received from the White House — coal miners who helped make America the most prosperous nation on earth with the most abundant and cheapest form of energy?
Up until now, almost nothing. But The U.S. Department of Labor in June announced a $7.5 million grant to workers in eastern Kentucky who were laid off when mines closed. We wasted $7.5 billion on failed green energy companies but can only muster up $7.5 million for poor coal miners? That’s not going to go very far among workers who will never find a similar job.
And kudos to Reps. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and David McKinley, R-W.V., who recently introduced legislation that would create a program to help transition out-of-work coal miners into new jobs. The bill, called the Healthy Employee Loss Prevention (HELP) Act, would create a “worker adjustment assistance program” that would help former coal miners with finding jobs or retraining programs.
If we want to take Obama at his word that there is just one United States, he can start by not treating citizens in coal-producing states like second-class citizens. In fact, Obama is showing more deference to illegal aliens in this country than the millions of natural Americans who have lived and died mining coal since this country’s founding.
It’s time for Obama to stop dissing coal-mining states and give them the support and respect they are due.