Coal Tattoo

Maynard wants to stop Washington’s ‘War on Coal’

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That’s former W.Va. Supreme Court Justice Spike Maynard on the left, shown during his 2006 trip to Monaco with Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

Two years ago, Spike Maynard lost his bid for re-election to West Virginia’s Supreme Court of Appeals — largely, most observers believe — because of the photos that surfaced of his  European vacation with Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

But this morning, Maynard was absolutely unapologetic for that scandal, announcing that his candidacy for Congress would amount to mostly a war on what he called Washington’s “War on Coal.”

Said Maynard:

This isn’t about where I went on my summer vacation four years ago. It’s … about whether we are going to mine coal in Southern West Virginia.

Last year, Maynard changed his registration to Republican  and said today he was running in the GOP primary and hopes to end up in the general election trying to unseat Democrat Nick J. Rahall for the congressional seat representing most of Southern West Virginia’s coal counties.

Maynard made his announcement this morning on MetroNews Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval.  I pulled a little bit of audio of the announcement so you could hear it

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rahall_photo.jpgRahall is in his 17th term representing that region. While he’s  been under increasing pressure from some in the coal industry (especially folks associated with Blankenship), Rahall has periodically been targeted by candidates who were funded by coal interests. Rahall has tried to navigate a pretty complicated political terrain, as he’s Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and considered a strong environmental advocate on almost all issues except those affecting West Virginia’s coal industry.

Here’s Maynard’s main soundbite for his new political campaign:

The entire economy of West Virginia today is threatened like it’s never been before in our lifetimes.  It’s truly today economic life or death in West Virginia and part of the reason is that leaders in Washington, D.C., have simply declared war on the coal industry.

Then, Maynard took a page out of the book of the failed McCain GOP presidential campaign with this line:

They have promised us they are going to bankrupt anyone who builds a coal-fired power plant.

As the Gazette pointed out at the time (the eve of the 2008 general election), that line by Sarah Palin greatly twisted then-candidate Obama’s remarks.  Obama was simply explaining that the idea behind cap-and-trade legislation was to encourage utilities to put carbon capture and storage technology on their power plants to control greenhouse gas emissions and keep coal competitive in a carbon-constrained world. Among the supporters of such a program are the United Mine Workers of American union and American Electric Power — the nation’s largest coal buyer. And, just for the record, Rep. Rahall voted against the House cap-and-trade bill.

And, Maynard said this of the Obama administration’s environmental regulators:

They have said they intend to stop surface mining and kill all of the jobs that are associated with it.

Who said that? I don’t think it was EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and it certainly wasn’t Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

It doesn’t sound like candidate Maynard is too interested in finding ways for the coal industry to “embrace the future” or trying to navigate a future for Southern West Virginia where Central Appalachian coal production — regardless of whether climate change is dealt with or mountaintop removal is restricted — is cut in half within this decade.

And, will Maynard seek financial support for his campaign from his buddy Don Blankenship (or from Massey Energy for that matter, given the U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing such spending)? Maynard said he hopes “all of the coal companies will support me.”