W.Va. taxpayers fund anti-Obama coal campaign

May 16, 2012 by Ken Ward Jr.

Folks in West Virginia may have heard about a series of upcoming events aimed at attacking President Obama and his Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to reduce the coal industry’s impacts on the environment, public health and the global climate system.

A group called “The Coal Forum” is sponsoring the events, which include meetings next week in Charleston, Wheeling and Beckley. Listed speakers include Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, Congressman Nick Joe Rahall, Congressman David McKinley and UMWA President Cecil Roberts. Next week’s meetings are described on the Coal Forum’s website as events:

… To discuss EPA’s War on Coal and, specifically, the agency’s greenhouse gas and Utility MACT proposed rules.

These rules will significantly affect West Virginia jobs, and in fact, have already resulted in the announced premature closure of several state power plants. The purpose of the Coal Forum events are to increase awareness of the harmful impacts these rules will have on the economy of Appalachia and to discuss strategies for reversing them.

What you may not realize is that these events are sponsored and paid for by West Virginia taxpayers.

You see, the Coal Forum is kind of a creature of state statute. Check out W.Va. Code 22A-6-7. Generally, this is a section of law concerning state mine safety boards and technical committees related to those boards. But it includes a little bit of language that charges the State Coal Mine Safety and Technical Review Committee with this duty:

Provide a forum for the resolution of technical issues encountered by the board, safety education and coal advocacy programs.

Over the last two years, the state Legislature (and the governor) have specifically earmarked nearly $60,000 for the “Coal Forum” (see here and here).

The Coal Forum’s promotional materials for next week’s events say:

Stakeholders in West Virginia’s mining economy – industry leaders, mining personnel, association representatives, local legislators and policy leaders – are encouraged to attend.

There’s no mention of having any public health professionals, environmental quality experts, or anyone else who might dare to question the standard industry line about Obama’s “war on coal.” Remember, those are your tax dollars at work.

12 Responses to “W.Va. taxpayers fund anti-Obama coal campaign”

  1. John Neal says:

    I should be shocked that our tax dollars are bein used like this but sadly I’m not

  2. armored face conveyor says:

    And ironically could not the headline have been
    “West Virginia Taxpayers fund Obama anti-coal campaign”?

    pretty sure some of my tax dollars go toward EPA.

  3. Joel says:

    Thanks again for this enlightening post, Ken. Please let me and others know what the chances are that this blog might eventually find its way into the printed version of the WV Gazette, where it might get the audience it deserves. These important issues you highlight should be put out for the majority of the Gazette’s readership to digest and consider.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    AFC. Our tax dollars fund the EPA and the EPA’s job is to protect us from pollution (which indiscriminantly kills us). That’s a bit different from our tax dollars being used to campaign against a President who some of us like and some of us don’t.

  5. WV-T says:

    “There’s no mention of having any public health professionals, environmental quality experts, or anyone else who might dare to question the standard industry line about Obama’s “war on coal.” Remember, those are your tax dollars at work.”

    Great point. If such tax-payer funded events are going to be held, at least they shouldn’t be so obviously biased!

  6. santafemargie says:

    Why is there no “Future Forum” planned to discuss how West Virginians can not only survive but thrive in a new economy : elected officials and citizens exploring ideas and committing to creating conditions that will promote and produce businesses and jobs that will support us well in the next 10 to 100 years.
    Without this kind of forward thinking and excitement about better tomorrows we will continue to suffer in the many ways West Virginians are all too familiar with: poverty and poor health being the primary ones. We need leaders who do not worship the past and continue to look backward. They do this at our peril not their own –their future economic well-being is almost guaranteed because of the status they have achieved. The future of most West Virginians will surely not be so positive without enlightened and responsible guidance from those we elect to provide it.

  7. Emmett says:

    Do state governments have to comply with FEC rules when they get involved with federal elections? Shouldn’t the state have to file with the FEC if someone expressly advocates against voting for Obama at this event?

  8. Mo Persinger says:

    I guess I’d rather see the money spent this way than the development office giving it to Tiger Woods.

  9. Maria Gunnoe says:

    Is it possible for people to see through all this?? Jim Justice sold his coal reserves to Russia! Tiger Woods is excepting money that came from the destruction of a culture of people. These rich fat cats keep getting richer off of our demise. When are people going to get it? The political corruption is as engrained as the coal in the culture of WV. We are EXPECTED to continue to give as they continue to take. Most the politicians in the state of WV are bought and paid for career politicians that are so caught up in all the DC hub bub that they HAVE TO ignore important health studies on the impacts of coal on our health. They are beholden to simply not acknowledge these studies. Joe Manchin, Nick Rahall, Rockefeller and Capito all know about these studies. If they don’t maybe they are not paying attention. They continue to say that they are not aware of these studies! I’ll bet they are all WELL aware of the money they are making off of the people they pretend to care about. Coal and our politicians are whats keeping us poor. Coal isn’t King in WV its the Dictator.

  10. Rudy Waltz says:

    When did export become a bad thing? Last I checked a good economy is one that exports more than imports.
    I’m glad Tiger Woods is ACCEPTING the money to play at the tournament. It will bring in a lot of money for the state.
    Personally I give about 50 hours a week of my time to my job in the coal industry. In return I get paid a more than decent wage that has afforded me and my wife a nice vehicle, a house, and also a college education for my wife. There’s no victim here.

  11. Offgridminded says:

    The better point to push is how many tax dollars will be provided by allowing green energy to come in, in place of coal. Solving many of the problems posed by coal and the damage to the environment caused by mine runoff and mountaintop removal. Won’t happen overnight but the jobs it will create will last, coal is only getting more and more sophisticated and mechanized, allowing for less paid labor and a lower bottom line for mine operators.

  12. Michael Niggemyer says:

    Rudy Waltz — exporting becomes a bad thing when you are exporting raw materials and then buying back (importing) finished products; this is especially true when a country is exporting limited and non-renewable natural resources (e.g. coal, oil, gas, etc.). When one exports the raw materials, and a foreign nation makes and sells us back a finished product, the foreign country makes most of the profits, because of the value added to the raw products when one makes them into finished products. More importantly for the working class, many of the formerly high paying manufacturing jobs of factory workers, that trasform these materials, which were once American jobs, now exist in the foreign countries that make the finished product (however, those countries are not paying the workers very well) — when we export raw materials, we are exporting those manufacturing jobs too. And now, when we sell the raw materials (coal reserves) to foreign countries or companies, we are even exporting the profits from the raw materials, as well. Those foreign owners have no motive to put a single dime back into the coal communities. This explains why our coal counties, in Appalachia in general, are among the most impoverished counties in the country. And when the non-renewable raw materials are gone — we are left with nothing. What will your children do for a living???

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