In the build-up to the Democratic primary in West Virginia, we saw just how relevant coal can be to candidates seeking higher office. Earlier in the year, Secretary Clinton said her energy policies would “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” In the days and weeks since then she has tried to walk back those remarks, but people who are most affected by the current administration’s crusade to eliminate coal-based power from America’s energy portfolio just aren’t buying – and ultimately rejected her by a 16-point margin.
This turn of events demonstrates how an issue like coal-based power can affect elections. And really it’s no wonder, as the coal-based electric sector from producers to transporters to generators provide several hundred thousand jobs and nearly 35 percent of the nation’s electricity. Yet despite the critical role it plays in powering America’s economy, coal-based power is held up as the culprit for all environmental woes.
We need look no further than the administration’s Clean Power Plan, which Sec. Clinton claims she wholeheartedly supports, to see this onslaught in action.
The regulation, unveiled by EPA late last year, is the most costly rule ever put forth on the power sector, costing upwards of $30 billion a year and levying electric rate hikes in all of the lower 48 states, with 41 seeing double-digit increases, The administration frequently dismisses the impacts to low- and middle-income families, who will be most harmed by the plan, saying it all must be done to prevent global warming. In truth, however, the plan will only reduce global temperatures by 2/100ths of a degree. There’s another way to describe this: it’s all pain and no gain.
Hundreds of millions of Americans in every state benefit from affordable coal-based power and they are paying attention to what the candidates have to say this election cycle. For our part, we hope Secretary Clinton is paying attention to what voters have to say and rethinking whether she wants to continue to support energy policies that will put people out of work.
Laura Sheehan is senior vice president of communications at the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.