Obama Succeeding In His War on Coal

More West Virginians were jobless last month than in July, largely because of massive layoffs in the mining industry. On the same day the state revealed unemployment figures for August, another coal company announced hundreds more layoffs.

Any more questions about whether President Barack Obama is winning his war on coal?

Unemployment in the state, on a seasonally adjusted basis, increased to 7.5 percent in August, according to WorkForce West Virginia. That was up two-tenths of a percent from July.

About 2,300 Mountain State jobs were lost in August – with about 1,600 of them in the mining and logging industries.

That was last month. This week Alpha Natural Resources revealed it is cutting coal production by 16 million tons a year and eliminating 1,200 jobs in West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Details on which Mountain State mines were affected were not released immediately.

Alpha’s decision was just the most recent in a series of announcements of coal production cuts and job losses.

In part the losses are due to competition from relatively inexpensive natural gas for power generation. But power companies have announced plans to close dozens of coal-fired generating stations in order to meet Obama administration rules on smokestack emissions.

New Environmental Protection Agency rules have combined with other facets of the Obama war on coal, including making it more difficult for surface mines to obtain permits, to hit the mining industry hard.

Obama’s defenders insist the war on coal is a myth. But production cuts, mine closings and thousands of layoffs are no myth. They may be gratifying to a White House determined to wreck the coal industry – but they are new causes for concern among residents of West Virginia, Ohio and many other states where tens of millions of people rely on inexpensive electricity generated from coal.

And with an election scheduled for Nov. 6, news from the coalfields is – as it should be – a major factor in the thinking of voters who understand that if Obama is re-elected, the outlook will only grow worse.