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October 11, 2004

MineWorkers: Bush bad for Miners

West Virginia could be a crucial state, where Kerry seems to be running behind, but a serious turnout campaign could turn things around, and the Mineworkers union is challenging Bush's on coal issues, that worked in his advantage last election. Here is the statement from the President of the United Mine Workers Union:

Much has been written lately in the coalfields about what a John Kerry presidency would mean for the coal industry, with some conservative pundits predicting much doom and gloom. There appears to be an attempt to scare coal miners into believing that Kerry's election would mean the end of coal mining. As a coal miner-and the president of the union that represents coal miners-I strongly disagree. Yes, John Kerry cares about our environment, as we all should. The air we breath and the water we drink are precious resources that deserve protection. But John Kerry also understands that coal is an important part of our energy mix. He advocates policies that promise a brighter future for coal by encouraging the development and deployment of new technologies that will help coal retain its place in U.S. energy policy. . .

Let's compare Kerry's plan to the Bush record. When he ran for president in 2000, President Bush told coal miners he would spend $2 billion over 10 years for clean coal technology, or $200 million per year. In his first two years he requested $150 million, lowered it to $130 million last year, and this year dropped it to $50 million. In a period when he promised to spend $800 million, he asked for only $480 million, far short of his campaign promise. President Bush also proposed to cut the fossil energy budget this year by about a third, including a cut of nearly $145 million for coal. These federal research dollars are not just arcane accounting figures; they represent the future of the coal industry and the security of coal miners' jobs. . .

Some in the coalfields argue that President Bush is friendlier to coal and deserves the support of coal miners. They ignore the fact that the Bush Administration issued proposed mercury regulations a few months ago that would devastate the eastern coalfields and potentially cause thousands of coal miners to lose their jobs. The Bush mercury plan essentially gives a free ride to western coal while setting limits for eastern coal that cannot be met by existing technology. The result would be more fuel switching from eastern to western coal, with devastating results for coalfield communities. . .

When coal miners go into the voting booth in November, I believe they will cast their vote for John Kerry because they know they will fare better under his leadership than they have under George Bush.

And the MineWorkers have a lot of retirees worried about health care, another strength for Kerry. So we'll see what West Virginia actually does this election.

Posted by Nathan at October 11, 2004 10:50 AM