Editorial - The ‘war on coal’ is a myth
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 02:09
The ‘war on coal.’
Sounds scary, doesn’t it?
Chances are, anyone who has spent time in Appalachia in the past year is familiar with this moniker.
Throughout West Virginia and several of its neighboring states, billboards, television advertisements and bumper stickers warn of this ongoing economic conflict. The coal belt, which stretches through parts of West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania, has been ominously redubbed "Obama’s No Job Zone."
Based on these advertising campaigns, which are spearheaded by coal companies and the politicians they support, it would seem the current president and his party are hell-bent on destroying the region’s coal industry, along with the livelihood of the thousands who depend on it.
Is this an accurate representation of the Democratic Party’s stance on the coal industry? Hardly.
A simple look at the facts regarding the Obama Administration’s approach to the this issue clearly shows that the so-called war on coal is nothing more than a scare tactic being employed by the coal industry with the goal of deliberately misleading the public.
In fact, recent data released by WorkForce West Virginia reveals the number of coal jobs in West Virginia has actually risen since Obama took office, with this year’s tally achieving a two-decade high. As is often the case, reality is far-removed from the rhetoric dominating our political discourse on this issue.
Many of the claims surrounding this so-called war are centered on the Environmental Protection Agency and the supposed job-killing regulations it has introduced over the past several years. Although the EPA has implemented new regulations, many of them are designed to decrease the release of poisonous chemicals, such as mercury, into the environment, and none of them are intended to "kill jobs." Several of the most controversial regulations have not even been implemented, and may never be. Others only apply to coal plants constructed in the future.
As is illustrated by the fact that the industry continues to grow, these regulations do not represent a mortal threat to King Coal.
This is simply another case of intentionally misleading political advertising. This issue highlights the importance of voters actively looking into the facts behind the claims made by politicians. Unfortunately, this certainly will not be the only case of factually dubious political advertising campaigns in this year’s election.
As citizens, we must ensure these campaigns do not succeed in deciding our elections based on false wedge issues, such as a non-existent war on coal.