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July 20 — If elected president, Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton would “double down” on many of the regulatory policies that have harmed the coal industry, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said.
Capito, speaking July 19 at the Republican National Convention in one of the few speeches to touch on energy issues, said coal miners in her state feel like the Obama administration has “kicked them to the curb” and blamed the president's “recklessness” for causing tens of thousands of job losses in the industry since 2011. She said Clinton would be more of the same.
“I weep for the fabric of my state,” Capito said in a prime-time address. “We shouldn't be surprised by this, because Hillary Clinton understands coal miners and blue collar workers about as well as she understands secure e-mail.”
Capito's remarks came on the night that Donald Trump formally became the Republican nominee for president. The New York businessman, who in May told West Virginia coal miners that he would “get those mines open,” has opposed a host of Obama administration regulatory efforts that Clinton has said she would build upon.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, some 36,700 employees in the coal industry have lost their jobs since 2011, though outside experts cite low natural gas prices as a primary driver of those losses.
But Capito said regulations from the Obama administration were “disconnected from the realities of working Americans” and had created “a cycle of pessimism and disgust” in her state.
“You may remember when President Obama arrogantly proclaimed that he would slow the rise of the oceans and heal our planet,” Capito said. “So what did he do? He introduced and implemented sweeping environmental regulations without Congress's approval and without any consideration for the economy. These unilateral actions are ill-informed and quite frankly, unconstitutional.”
Clinton has released a $30 billion plan to help revitalize Appalachia and other coal communities struggling with the industry's decline. It would expand the amount of renewable energy produced on federal land and offer training and education programs to those in the region.
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