Coal Miners Union Abandons Workers in Key Senate Races

Signaling total disregard for its workers, the United Mine Workers of America Union (UMWA) endorsed two Democrats over Republican rivals in upcoming Senate races in coal dependent states.

It’s not a total surprise. Following Obama’s declaration of war against coal in 2008, the UMWA endorsed Obama during his first campaign. After observing Obama’s attack against its members, the UMWA decided to remain neutral and failed to endorse either Obama or Mitt Romney.

Now with the coal industry in a free-fall, the UMWA is seeking to keep Senate Democrats in power.

The UMWA backed West Virginia Secretary of State Democrat Natalie Tennant over Republican Representative Shelly Moore Capito for the Senate seat being vacated by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). In Kentucky, the union endorsed Secretary of State Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes over Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Naturally, Grimes and Tennant are saying they support coal, but their presence in the Senate would not stop the anti-coal Obama and Reid machine.  Pro-coal West Virginia Senate Democrat Joe Manchin has failed to protect coal and there is no reason to believe the addition of Grimes and Tennant would make any difference.

By supporting Grimes and Tennant, the UMWA is being exposed as a liberal front group that puts liberal ideological before the interests of its members.  Rank and file coal miners should be outraged that their dues are being used to put them on the unemployment line.

With control of the Senate hanging in the balance, the UMWA is doing its best to keep Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and other anti-coal Democrats in power.

The stakes could not be higher for the coal industry. If the Democrats keep the Senate the coal industry is doomed but if Republicans control both chambers in Congress the industry might be saved from extinction.

Since taking office, President Obama has waged a war against the coal industry.  When the Democrats controlled Congress during his first term the president pushed for cap-and-trade legislation.  After that bill failed he used the power of the executive branch principally through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to keep his promise to bankrupt the coal industry and make electricity prices skyrocket.

In an arrogant display of abuse of power, Obama is systematically destroying an industry by regulating it to death.

The consequences have been devastating to coal miners and coal dependent industries.  EPA’s new regulations on traditional emissions and proposed regulations on greenhouse gases are forcing utilities to shut down coal fired-power plants crushing demand for coal.

Falling coal sales resulted in huge revenue declines resulting in over an eighty percent loss in the share price for some mining companies and Patriot Coal and James River Coal Company filed  for bankruptcy.  Coal mining equipment makers and railroad companies have also been negatively affected by the drop in coal mining and shipping.

Most important for the UMWA, thousands of coal miners have lost their jobs, especially in Kentucky and West Virginia.

Using data from energy research firm SNL Energy,  Morris Beschloss wrote in The Desert Sun that the coal industry lost just over 17,000 jobs since 2011 with 84% of those jobs being lost in Appalachian states including Kentucky and West Virginia.  He added“Boone County, West Virginia saw its average coal mine employment during the period drop by 1,838 employees, to 2,682 from 4,520, a decline of nearly 41% since the fourth quarter of 2011.”

The news for coal miners remains bleak and it can get worse.  Alpa Natural Resources recently announced it might lay off 1,100 miners at 11 mines in West Virginia this fall and according to Greenwire, EPA estimated that its proposed rule for greenhouse gases for existing power plants coal production would fall as much as 27% percent in 2020 and under one scenario up to 14,000 coal miner job losses by 2020.

The recent Congress proves Republican control of the House of Representatives is not enough to save the coal industry.  The House passed bills to impede the EPA but they die in Reid’s controlled Senate.  An effort to defund the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas rule through the 2014 budget deal was blocked by Senate Democrats.

The UMWA can expect more of the same anti-coal agenda if the Senate remains under Democrat control since climate change remains high on Obama’s priority list.  The New York Times recently reported Obama will seek an international agreement on climate change next year.

Consequently, the best and only chance the coal industry has to survive is for Congress to control the EPA via the appropriations process.

The UMWA should be leading the charge to get the Senate in Republican hands, but it looks like the union leadership is choosing politics over its membership.

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