Coal Tattoo

Coal Tattoo asks the candidates …

After Monday’s post, “Industry rally: Who can be the most pro-coal?” and a lively discussion via Twitter with my buddy Ry Rivard about the Daily Mail’s “War on Coal” story regarding West Virginia’s 3rd District Congressional race, I got thinking …

So I asked the campaigns of both Republican Spike Maynard and Democrat Rep. Nick J. Rahall the following question:

So far, much of the 3rd District campaign has focused on the “war on coal” — on arguments about who would do more to stand up to “abuses” by the EPA meant to reduce the damage from surface mining and control greenhouse gas emissions. But according to general and industry estimates, coal production in Southern West Virginia and the rest of Central Appalachia is projected to drop by half over the next decade and by up to 58 percent by 2035 — and that is without any additional restrictions on mountaintop removal or limits on greenhouse gases. (See here, here and here) Given these estimates, what exactly is your plan for preparing Southern West Virginia economically for this reduction in coal production and the resulting job losses? If elected, how would you help the region to diversify and to minimize the damage to communities from such a sweeping economic challenge?

I gave both camps a deadline for responding, and only got something back from Rep. Rahall … Nothing from Maynard. Here’s what Rahall’s camp had to say:

I have worked diligently to help broaden and diversify the economy of our region.   I am, for example, a strong proponent of what I term “the three T’s”:  transportation, technology, and tourism – areas that I believe represent real growth opportunities for our region.  And Senator Byrd liked to add a fourth T to that list – teamwork.   Southern West Virginia needs to be pulling together to tackle our economic challenges, perhaps now more than ever.  We need to keep investing in infrastructure – in more modern roads and bridges, in telecommunications, in water and sewer systems – in all of those fundamentals that help to grow existing businesses and invite new businesses to want to locate here.   These are some of initiatives I have been promoting as a Congressman from Southern West Virginia and as Vice-Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, a position I was elevated to after gaining years of expertise and experience.

My membership on and now chairman of the Natural Resources Committee has enabled me to champion some important investments in tourism, too – like the New River Gorge National River and the Gauley River National Recreation Area, the Hatfield-McCoy Trail, Coal Heritage Area, and numerous like initiatives that are bringing visitors to our communities to spend time and money and perhaps look to invest here as well.

It is also critical that we keep enhancing our education and training systems, too, so that our young people are prepared to fill the jobs of the future, allowing them to stay right here building their careers and our economies and raising their own families.