Today, West Virginia’s Democratic Senator Joe Manchin revealed he was “livid” when Hillary vowed to put the coal industry ‘out of business’ during a CNN town hall debate. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that during the televised performance, the Democratic front-runner said what no West Virginian wants to hear: “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” In the aftermath of President Obama’s war on “dirty” fuels, no state has been hit harder then West Virginia’s coal miners.
Sen. Manchin retells of his reaction to that comment in an interview with the WSJ: “It was horrific,” he says. Not only did the senator endorse Hillary last year in her bid to be president, but he believed that she was the best candidate to have a “pragmatic” view of the coal industry. Unlike most of his Democrat counterparts, Manchin has been an outspoken critic of Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
Just recently, the Supreme Court issued a stay along partisan lines on the EPA’s sweeping new regulations in order to give states and industry time to litigate the matter through the courts. It’s also one of the reasons President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who sided with the stay. As a judge, “Garland has in a number of cases favored contested EPA regulations and actions when challenged by industry, and in other cases he has accepted challenges brought by environmental groups.”
After Hillary made her comments at the town hall debate on March 13, Manchin called Clinton’s campaign and spoke directly with the presidential candidate. “I called her,” Manchin said. “I said, ‘My God.'” He says he told Clinton that if she really meant what she said, “we can just part ways.” Manchin says he also told her that, “You probably don’t need West Virginia. Maybe you don’t even think you can win it and don’t need to win it. I really don’t know how your team is evaluating our state.”
The state’s Democratic primary is set for May 10, and Clinton won it during her failed 2008 bid against a first-term senator named Barack Obama. The last time a Democrat won the state in a general election was Clinton’s husband, Bill. After Hillary’s gaffe, the prospects look even bleaker, especially in coal-producing states getting hammered by the current administration.
Of all the coal-producing states, West Virginia has lost the most coal mining jobs than any other, due in large part to the current administration’s onerous rules and visible disdain for coal-fired power plants. The Clean Power Plan, while is currently on hold, is still being implemented by many blue states because the EPA has said they will prevail in court. If Garland is nominated to the Supreme Court, he could be the deciding factor in completely destroying the coal economy in numerous states. Many don’t realize that killing coal also means destroying America’s steel industry.
Manchin even admits that while Clinton is popular in his state, they will have a hard time in the general election. The other opponent, Bernie Sanders, is an outspoken critic of coal and fracking and has vowed to shut them down and replace them with renewables. The problem is that solar can cost six times more than natural gas and coal-fired power plants, which isn’t lost on voters. Even the EPA’s head, Gina McCarthy, has stated publicly that all these new climate regulations would not avert global warming, but it would show the world we are in a leadership role.
Manchin also says his state has gone through “more hardship and more poverty under this administration” and that “a lot of things have happened that doesn’t make the Democrats popular in the state of West Virginia on a national level.” When given a chance to explain herself, Clinton told Manchin she “didn’t want to sever ties.”
Manchin adds that Clinton told him: “Joe, no. I don’t want to do that. That’s not who I am. I understand what the hard working coal miners and the hard working people of West Virginia have done for their country.” All this may explain why voters consistently poll that Hillary is untrustworthy.
She even sent a personal letter saying she had “erred,” writing that she wanted to clarify her recent statements about coal workers. “Simply put,” Clinton wrote, “I was mistaken in my remarks.” Prior to that letter, Clinton back-peddled even further saying she meant migrating coal workers to renewable energy technologies. She also said that she “meant that market forces including cheap natural gas, rather than government policies, are hammering the coal industry.” More simply, don’t blame Obama, blame fracking (she’s also against that method for extracting natural gas as well).
Manchin also says that Hillary and Bill have been “friends” and have “always been there and have been very helpful.” He adds, “They’ve never told me something they couldn’t do and wouldn’t do. And they’ve never not done what they said they would.” If that sounds like a weak-kneed tongue-twisting seal of approval, it actually puts the proverbial noose on Clinton’s neck, and not Manchin himself. If Hillary’s elected and she carries out her CNN gaffe/promise, Manchin can point to her waffling during the election.
Sen. Manchin also says he can see the ads running relentlessly on TV being used against her, and worst of all, himself, in the upcoming election. Her comments will be “plastered and re-plastered and used against her. It will be used against me and everybody else who has a ‘D’ by their name.”
In 2008, then-Sen. Obama pledged to “bankrupt” coal companies, which so far has been successful. One of the largest coal companies, Peabody Energy, may be seeking bankruptcy protection. They would join companies like Arch Coal and Alliance Coal, two more companies struggling in Obama’s anti-coal economy.