WEST VIRGINIA ELECTION ALL ABOUT COAL - The Failure To Diversify, Educate

(09/26/2014)

Comment By Bob Weaver

The "War on Coal" plays well to West Virginia voters, particularly when its linked to the Obama administrations environmental regulations which are blamed for ruining the industry, and West Virginians dislike of the black president.

John Buckley, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, called out opponents Shelley Moore Capito and Natalie Tennant.

He dubbed their campaign ads attacking Obama and the “war on coal,” as vapid.

“The latest round of dueling Tennant-Capito campaign ads reflect the vapidity of the major party candidates’ campaigns. Unfortunately, the public is the biggest loser when serious discussion of major issues are sacrificed,” Buckley said.

While US Census numbers show that much of America has been recovering from the Wall Street-US Bank induced collapse in the Great Recession that fell upon the country in 2008, West Virginia remains near the bottom in wages and poverty rates.

Former US congressman Ken Heckler, now 100, once proclaimed that the worst thing that ever happened to West Virginia was coal, indicating coal interests and politicians have clung to its extraction for a century to produce jobs and fuel the state economy and state tax coffers.

Heckler's statement was based on the fact that state leaders have failed to diversify the economy, something that has happened in most jurisdictions across the USA.

Coal's legacy to WV, a job decline from about 125,000 to about 15,000 miners, mainly because of mechanization and mountaintop removal, and communities that are among the most poverty stricken in the USA.

So here in the Fall 2014 election, sadly it's still about coal.

WV exports of coal fell from $7.43 billion in 2012 to $4.54 billion in 2013, a 39 percent decline.

The market changes are by far the biggest factor with the decline of WV coal sales, in addition to WV's coal-type not leading the market.

Then there is the major shift to natural gas, causing an impact.

In the 21st Century Information and Technology Age, the promise that high-tech businesses and firms can operate from any any rural area has failed.

Made even worse is that WV high school graduates are among the worst prepared, with achievement outcomes among lowest in the nation.

Meanwhile, we still cling to coal and extractive industries to create our jobs and pave the way to a better future.


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