CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s coal industry is not backing away a bit from its support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, despite the disclosures that Trump bragged about sexual assault and new reports from women who say they were assaulted by Trump.
Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said Thursday that he puts Trump’s statements about and treatment of women in a “separate category” from the Republican nominee’s position on regulatory issues and other matters affecting coal mining.
“There is no way in the world you can support or condone those things or think they are right,” Raney said. “But the distinction between the two candidates is so very clear. He has an affinity and belief that fossil fuels have a place in the energy system in this country.”
The coal association announced its endorsement of Trump in early May, on the same day that the Republican visited Charleston for a huge Civic Center rally that was attended by a crowd of coal miners in hard hats with signs that said, “Trump digs coal.”
Trump has taken up the industry’s charge that Obama administration regulations have brought on a decline in the nation’s coal industry, despite a vast amount of evidence from experts who say that competition from low-priced natural gas is the main driver in the changes in energy markets.
Clinton has said that the nation continues to move toward cleaner energy sources to combat climate change, but has also presented a plan to help with a coalfield economic transition, and for putting more money toward efforts to capture carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. Most energy experts have expressed serious doubts about any potential large-scale rebound for the coal industry, and most published forecasts don’t see the sort of growth that Trump seems to promise when he says, “If I win, we’re going to bring those miners back.”
Raney said the coal association was just looking for a candidate that provided its member companies “some kind of hope.”
“We looked at it from an energy industry standpoint,” Raney said. Trump’s position on energy issues and his treatment of women “are very separate things,” Raney said. “I look at them separately.”
Noting the sexual misconduct allegations that have long dogged former President Bill Clinton — and have been resurrected by the Trump campaign in recent days — Raney also said, “It’s amazing to me how righteous everybody seems to be.” Raney emphasized that he didn’t condone Trump’s behavior and comments, but added, “I certainly don’t think [Trump] has a patent on it.”
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at [email protected], 304-348-1702 or follow @kenwardjr on Twitter.