Appearing at a CNN town hall in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton promised that in her administration, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
Clinton’s stark statement was not only an acknowledgement that she plans to continue waging President Obama’s “war on coal,” it was a clear sign she intends to accelerate the destruction of one of the country’s leading energy sector industries.
It may also have an undesirable political effect in Ohio, which was the ninth largest coal producing state in 2013. Ohio is one of five states holding primaries tomorrow. A week ago, Sen. Bernie Sanders defeated Clinton in the Democratic primary held in neighboring Michigan.
Clinton says she has a plan, however, for all those coal miners currently working at those coal companies she will put out of business.
“I’m the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country — because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right, Tim?” she said, smiling at a member of the town hall audience. She added:
And we’re going to make it clear that we don’t want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives, to turn on our lights and power our factories. Now, we’ve got to move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don’t want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on.
In November, Clinton announced a “$30 billion plan to ensure that coal miners and their families get the benefits they’ve earned and respect they deserve, to invest in economic diversification and job creation, and to make coal communities an engine of US economic growth in the 21st century as they have been for generations.”
Coal is not the only resource mining and power plant communities possess. From Appalachia to the Uinta Basin, coal communities have rich human and cultural capital, diverse natural resources, and enormous economic potential. Clinton will partner with the local entrepreneurs, community leaders, foundations and labor groups working to unleash that potential, making federal investments that help people to find good jobs without having to move and build a strong, diversified economic future.
But as Thomas Lifson as American Thinker points out, “The idea that coal miners in southern Ohio are going to make solar panels is ludicrous.”
“How long did those Solyndra jobs last? They cost taxpayers only about half a billion dollars,” he notes, citing the Obama administration subsidized solar energy panel producer that went bankrupt after receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government:
How many of them are willing to wait for highly subsidized jobs in place of well-paying coal mining jobs? It is fashionable for liberals to assume that today’s coal miners are all suffering from black lung disease. What they don’t realize is that strip mines like those in Ohio and Wyoming are capital-intensive affairs paying top wages to skilled operators of expensive machinery. Not for the first time, Hillary is stuck in the past.
Clinton specifically mentioned Ohio in her November plan:
Clinton will increase funding for technical assistance for entrepreneurs and small businesses in impacted coal communities, through programs like the Innovation Center at Ohio University in Athens.
Increased funding for technical assistance and the promise of solar panel jobs that are highly unlikely to ever materialize, however, may offer little solace to Ohio coal miners whose jobs Hillary Clinton has promised to destroy.