Obama’s war on coal has hit these communities hard. We all know that. In fact, there is “visceral disgust” for Obama’s environmental policies in the Appalachian counties that have long-supported Democrats since the New Deal. The shift towards the Republican Party was seen in Kentucky when Mitch McConnell easily won re-election over Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes last year. McConnell was able to outperform his 2008 numbers in these coal counties, which contributed to his landslide victory. That trend continued when Matt Bevin, McConnell’s 2014 primary challenger, was elected governor earlier this month, becoming the second Republican to hold that office in four decades.
West Virginia, another coal-producing state, has also gone solidly Republican after decades of being a Democratic bastion. Their energy costs are expected to go up 20 percent under Obama's Clean Power Plan (CPP), which sets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels. It’s a regulatory nightmare, a job killer, and a policy that Hillary Clinton plans to continue if she’s elected. But have no fear coal counties; she plans to set aside $30 billion to help these people after she supported polices that have killed off the means in which they make a living.
The American Action Forum has crunched the numbers for the butcher’s bill for coal. The power plant provisions alone will gut 125,800 jobs and the total GDP loss over a ten-year period is $650 billon [emphasis AAF]:
The final rule for the Clean Power Plan (CPP) was released by the Obama Administration this past August and is a direct attack on the coal industry…the final plan, supported by Sec. Clinton, will shutter 66 power plants and eliminate 125,800 jobs in the coal industry. All of these figures are based on EPA data. The same study shows that using the 2012 baseline for coal generation and projections for 2030 output, the industry could shrink by 48 percent.
If 125,800 of these jobs are cut, wages lost will be over $9.8 billion dollars per year. The one-time $30 billion relief fund is a drop in the bucket and unless another industry picks up the slack that means over $90 billion in lost wages over the next 10 years.
The coal industry contributes nearly $65.7 billion to national GDP. As [sic] evidenced by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, the U.S. is not in a place to lose that type of contribution. Over 10 years, the U.S. will see a loss of over $650 billion dollars.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board added that unemployment in coal-producing eastern Kentucky is over 8 percent, it’s in double-digits in southern West Virginia, and coal production has decreased 15 percent since 2008, with the loss of 50,000 jobs between 2008-2012. They noted that the shale boom has contributed to this decline, but the Obama Environmental Protection Agency’s CPP policy will deliver the deathblow to the industry, along with the notion that it will needlessly destroy American jobs over the non-threat of global warming:
To make up for the job losses, there’s money for high-speed broadband, roads, bridges, water systems, airports, public health centers and renewable energy. Her plan also includes tax credits for investors, funding for arts and culture programs, as well as local food and agriculture businesses.
Her political goal is to staunch Democrats’ leaking support among blue-collar communities. Last week Republicans took the Kentucky governorship for only the second time in 44 years. In 2014 the GOP picked up Senate seats in Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Iowa, Colorado, West Virginia, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and came close in Virginia. Next year Republicans are defending Senate seats in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois—states President Obama won in 2012 but save for the Land of Lincoln may be in play in the presidential election.
So here we have the progressive policy arc made clear: First destroy coal jobs to please affluent liberals over climate change, then tax all Americans more to buy the support of the workers who had those jobs. How about not destroying the jobs in the first place?
The CPP has targeted rural America, fixed-income seniors, and could gut millions of jobs from the black and Hispanic communities. Americans generally are resigned to the fact that it will increase their electrical costs. At the same time, over half the states are suing the administration over the policy.