Rockefeller coal comments are out of touch

An editorial from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — When former U.S. Senator John D. Rockefeller IV walked away from public service in West Virginia in early 2015, he knew the political tide had turned in the Mountain State. The lifelong Democrat was replaced by Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, and that was the end of it.

But Rockefeller continues to fight for his adopted party (he was the only Rockefeller – across six generations – ever to serve as a Democrat). In an interesting bit of nonsense last week, Rockefeller tried to convince attendees of the National Energy Conference at West Virginia University’s College of Law that it will not matter which party’s nominee wins the presidency, nothing can save West Virginia’s coal industry.

He claimed that although a Republican president might try to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency for a while, ultimately, the EPA will prevail and its policies will be upheld in the courts. Essentially, he was trying to convince his audience a Republican in the White House will do West Virginia no good.

Most people living in the real world, here in West Virginia, know better. We have seen the U.S. Supreme Court strike blows to the EPA’s war effort. We have heard Hillary Clinton say “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”

West Virginians know the next president’s party will make a big difference for the coal industry, even as we recognize we will also need the leader of the federal government to avoid policies that cripple our effort to diversify the state’s economy.

But Rockefeller knows that, too. It seems old habits die hard.

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