West Virginia Coal Association endorses Trump over Clinton

During the debates, Hillary Clinton somewhat famously told the nation, “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” Do you suppose the people in West Virginia noticed? Even if they missed the live coverage of the event, they’ve been reminded of it plenty of times since then, and only a few days before the primary on Tuesday the powerful West Virginia Coal Association has jumped in with an endorsement of her opponent. (The Hill)

The West Virginia Coal Association is putting its weight behind Donald Trump for president.

Members of the group, which represents companies in coal mining and related industries, voted Thursday to endorse the presumptive Republican nominee, days before West Virginia’s presidential primary.

“Trump has said he will reverse the Democratic regulatory assault that has cost the coal industry more than 40 percent of our production and jobs since 2008,” Bill Raney, the group’s president, said in a statement.

“In contrast, Hillary Clinton’s proposals essentially double-down on the job killing Obama policies,” he said. “West Virginia can’t afford that and neither can the nation.”

Trump was in the state yesterday and has clearly been eating it up. Donning a miner’s hard hat on the stage, The Donald addressed a screaming audience who wanted to hear about how he plans to stop the war on coal and Clinton’s plans to “put them out of business.” (ABC News)

TRUMP DIGS COAL,” signs were scattered through Charleston Civic Center Thursday evening.

One day after becoming the presumptive Republican nominee, Trump made his first campaign stop in the Mountain State, with a targeted message geared towards miners and the coal industry.

“I am thinking about the miners all over this country. We’re going to put the miners back to work,” Trump said, calling on the miners who were in the crowd of thousands to stand up. “We are going to get those mines open. Oh, coal country. What they have done.”

West Virginia, which was once a Democratic stronghold back in the day, probably isn’t in play for Hillary Clinton in any event. Mitt Romney won the state in a 62 to 35 blowout in 2012 and John McCain carried it 55 to 42 in the previous cycle. But this is a message which resonates in a number of places which have seen the decline of mining pushing a lot of families into poverty. Beyond the borders of West Virginia, the same message will be pushed in Pennsylvania and Ohio. For the moment we’re talking about GOP primary votes which don’t matter all that much now that Trump is essentially the nominee, but we’ll soon be counting potential electoral college votes.

Unfortunately for the miners, it’s not just Democratic policies which have been crushing their livelihood. True, the War on Coal has produced serious negative effects and burdensome, largely meaningless new regulations on coal fired plants have exerted downward pressure on the industry. But at the same time, American energy expansion has in some ways been a victim of its own success. Continued low prices for natural gas, along with projections for that trend to continue for decades, have led to lower demand for coal and the conversion of many power plants over to this cheaper and cleaner resource. At this point, even a rollback of regulations and a more favorable federal government environment wouldn’t bring back coal mining to its former stature in the short run.

But this is much less a question of energy policy than it is a battle of blatant politicking. Clinton stuck her foot in it on this one and Trump is clearly moving to reap the benefits.