Coal Tattoo

W.Va. taxpayers fund anti-Obama coal campaign

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.