"War on Coal" Talking Point Rises From The Grave Again

A common theme in cheesy slasher horror movies is to have the main characters lulled into a false sense of security.  The rampaging psychopath has seemingly been destroyed, everyone breathes a sigh of relief, and just as someone cracks a joke, the killer re-emerges and claims another victim.  This scenario is playing itself out in American politics.  But instead of a serial killer, the rampaging psychopath is the coal industry’s pollution of the public discourse.

As I’ve pointed out in the past, the coal industry-sponsored talking point of an Obama administration “war on coal” failed to resonate with the American public during the 2012 election cycle.  That’s not speculation, it’s the industry’s own admission.  They conceded that the public didn’t buy into the idea, and that it was a lousy attempt.  Despite this evidence, their bought and paid for political lackeys are still beating the 'war on coal' drums.

Last week, it was Republicans Ed Whitfield and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell claiming that they would make the “war on coal” a staple of next year’s midterm elections.  Not being one to miss the opportunity to misinform the public, Republican Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky made it clear this week that he, too, would be using the “war on coal” as a major talking point for the next 12 months in an attempt to smear his political opponents.

From The Hill:

The Obama administration's alleged “war on coal” is set to become a prime target for Republicans during the 2014 election cycle.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said the administration's carbon pollution regulations for power plants and attacks on the coal industry would “absolutely” be a key issue in the 2014 elections.

“I think it will be big in the West Virginia election with the Senate seat there,” Paul told The Hill during a coal industry-sponsored rally at the Capitol on Tuesday.

Rand Paul is becoming another mouthpiece for an industry that has no problem throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars into political campaigns.  Senator Paul alone has received more than $140,000 from the mining industry – a hefty amount considering the fact that Paul was first elected in 2010.

What Republicans like Paul, and even Democrats from coal states like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, don’t seem to realize is that the new standards being proposed by the Obama administration are meant to save lives. 

Senator Paul should know firsthand how important these new standards are, considering that his home state of Kentucky has the worst air pollution from coal plants in the country.  For more than a decade, the state of Kentucky has suffered what has been described as an “asthma epidemic,” with the third highest rate of the respiratory disease in America.  The state also leads the nation in the highest rate of deaths from cancer.

The people of Kentucky, and other coal-heavy states, are clearly suffering, but the money and influence of the coal industry is enough to make politicians like Rand Paul completely overlook that suffering. 

It's time to let the “war on coal” talking point monster die for good, but the industry appears intent on making as many failed sequels as possible.