In West Virginia coal is synonymous with jobs. Coal mining is a dirty and dangerous job, but it is also a good-paying job. Forty years ago, my good friend Sanford McCown got a job sweeping up the coal that gathered where the elevators came to the surface. That paid seventy-five dollars a day plus benefits. That was really good money some forty-five years ago. The minimum wage was $2.30 an hour.
In the deal that Joe Manchin cut with Chuck Schumer, the coal industry could be hurt very badly or be destroyed altogether. In a statement Wednesday, America’s State Coal Associations, a group of eight state trade organizations in the coal industry bashed Manchin for capitulating on the ill-named “Inflation Reduction Act.” The coal group says that agreeing to the bill, it calls into question Manchin’s commitment to fossil fuel production.
The coal associations wrote:
“The more you read and digest the provisions found in over 700+ pages of legislative digest, the more it becomes abundantly clear this legislation will serve to severely threaten American coal and the $261 Billion of annual revenues that it produces for the nation’s overall economy and attendant 381,000 American jobs.”
“This legislation is so egregious, it leaves those of us that call Senator Manchin a friend, shocked and disheartened. Senator Manchin has seemingly fought against numerous climate measures advanced over the past year by the national democratic establishment insisting that America’s Coal assets be protected and allowed to continue to operate as carbon reduction strategies are developed and proven to be effective within reasonable cost and performance parameters. The current Schumer-Manchin draft agreement on climate and energy frankly leaves us questioning the motivation and sincerity of Manchin’s previous stance and his repeated chant: we must ‘Innovate not eliminate.’”
The group also points out several specific provisions that will hurt coal production.
“By turbocharging the lofty incentives that already extend to renewable energy, our nation’s … coal electric generation assets will continue to be devalued and thrust into rapid decline as will the thousands of miners, plant workers and the 371,000 American families who household incomes depend on these jobs,” the group said. “The Schumer-Manchin bill doubles the current tax on coal and subjects mining companies to the highest tax of any other American business effectively costing mining companies tens of millions of dollars in new taxes and adding to the complexities of keeping state fuel and household energy costs stable and competitive. More disturbing, the Schumer-Manchin proposal provides President Biden’s EPA with the clear and unbridled ability and expanded budget to regulate greenhouse gases and state coal assets however they deem appropriate or in the most punitive manner possible.”