The energy industry in the United States is and has been moving away from a coal based system. This has been going on for decades, and the causes are environmental and economics. The economics of natural gas, solar and wind power are slowly driving coal out of the energy industry. And the growing awareness of just how horrible the polluting effects of coal based energy are is hurrying the exit.
All of this has taken a terrible toll on the people of coal country, and their suffering is only enhanced by the fact that they live in some of the poorest regions of the country.
Luke Sharrett for The New York Times
Here is just a sample of what is happening.
In September, several hundred coal miners were furloughed for at least two months because of rising costs and shrinking demand. The company, Consol, announced on Wednesday that some workers will remain idled even after mining resumes the first week of November.
Other plants have shut down for good, citing in part foreign competition. Larry Lambert, 61, is one of the unlucky miners who spent a day this week at a résumé-writing seminar, which was a requirement for picking up his unemployment check.
The people of the area largely blame the President and the EPA,
“The E.P.A. has put so many strangleholds on the power companies they can’t burn the coal we are mining,” Mr. Lambert said. He added that Mr. Obama seemed appealing four years ago, but has betrayed coal miners.
but it is economics and environmental awareness is what is at work here, not politics or regulation.
Mr. Romney, like any other craven politician is exploiting the situation
Mr. Romney’s campaign is aggressively tapping into anger at President Obama’s environmental policies throughout the Appalachian counties where the state’s coal miners live, hoping that huge margins there will offset Mr. Obama’s equally aggressive campaign to woo female voters in the suburbs of Northern Virginia, just outside Washington.
And he is gathering support
One of Mr. Romney’s ads, appearing frequently on television, begins with a coal miner saying, “Obama is ruining the coal industry.” Mr. Romney held a rally in Abingdon, Va., this month. His son Matt spoke to 7,500 people last week in Grundy, a town of just 996 people.
But the truth of the matter is even if he repeals regulations that will not stop the movement away from using coal to generate electricity.
Even worse, his social policy, which will deny or reduce government benefits to people who need them the most, like unemployed coal miners, will make the citizens of the coal region worse off, not better off. And yes, if Mr. Romney is elected he will soon forget about these people. There are not enough of them to make a difference, and none of them own NFL teams, or NASCAR teams or pal around with billionaires.
No, all we have here is the cruel exploitation of good, decent hard working Americans. Men and women who work in some of the hardest, most dangerous occupations in the country. And yes they need help, but all they get is pandering.