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Sen. Rockefeller Throws Coal Mining Jobs Under the Progressive Bus


Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) epitomizes the progressive elite in Washington, D.C. who threatens our liberty and undermines our Republic.

Tragically for West Virginia, Rockefeller’s liberal underpinning was the driving force behind his vote against Senator James Inhofe’s (R-OK) resolution to block the EPA’s Utility MACT rule.

With his rich progressive history and elite background it’s not surprising that Rockefeller abandoned his coal dependent state during its greatest time of need.

As a part of the progressive ruling class, Rockefeller knows what’s good for us and he will challenge anything that dares to confront his world view. It’s his beliefs that matter, not the welfare of the people of West Virginia that elected him.

Even free speech can pose a problem for Rockefeller. Over the past few years, Rockefeller lamented the existence of the Internet, had an urge to ban cable TV news outlets and criticized Tea Party activists.

At a confirmation hearing for Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in 2009, Rockefeller expressed deep concern about cyber terrorism threats to our national security by saying, “It really almost makes you ask the question would it have been better if we had never invented the Internet and had to use paper and pencil or whatever and that’s a stupid thing to say but its it has genuine consequence…”

During a committee hearing in November 2010, Rockefeller complained about the quality of news on TV and said, “There’s a little bug inside of me which wants to get the F.C.C. to say to Fox and to MSNBC, ‘Out. Off. End. Goodbye.’ It would be a big favor to political discourse; to our ability to do our work here in Congress; and to the American people, to be able to talk with each other and have some faith in their government and, more importantly, in their future.”

The Tea Party also troubles Rockefeller. Speaking at the Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in 2011, he said he was "somewhat obsessed" with the Tea Party and characterized these political activists as "extremists" who have “hijacked” Republican politicians.

Taken together Rockefeller’s comments illustrate a politician who prefers the old top down approach to politics where the liberal media establishment of a few TV networks and newspapers to control the message surrounding his progressive actions without the inconvenience of competing thoughts and actions.

Most alarming, Rockefeller has been missing in action during President Obama’s war on coal. After the defeat of cap-and-trade legislation, President Obama decided to use the EPA to bring about his promise of skyrocketing electricity prices and bankrupting coal-fired power plants.

As the senior Democrat from West Virginia and his party controlling the Senate, Rockefeller had an opportunity to play a pivotal role in protecting his constituents. Faced with the choice of supporting President Obama or defending coal – Rockefeller chose to side with the President and throw coal miners under the progressive bus.

Rockefeller voted against S.J. Res.37, a Resolution of Disapproval under the Congressional Review Act sponsored by Inhofe to halt the Utility MACT Rule. The Utility MACT Rule is the most expensive regulation ever issued by the EPA and it is a major factor in the expected closing of an estimated 57 to 140 coal-fired utilities.

The Inhofe resolution had bipartisan support including West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin but it was defeated by a vote of 53- 46. West Virginia Democrat Governor Earl Tomblin and the United Mine Workers of America also supported Inhofe’s effort.

Shockingly, Rockefeller used his Senate floor speech to attack the coal industry. He complained about the public relations campaign that was mounted to defend coal from EPA’s onslaught saying, “Scare tactics are a cynical waste of time, money and worst of all coal miners’ hopes.”

While Rockefeller whines about industry’s right to defend itself from extinction, the coal mining job causalities from Obama’s war on coal are mounting.

Coal mining is a major industry in the state. According to the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training, coal provides approximately 30,000 direct jobs and the coal industry and coal-powered utilities generate more than 60% of business taxes generated in the state.

Consol Energy recently announced it was going to close a coal mine in West Virginia, laying off 318 coal miners and Alpha Natural Resources said they were terminating 100 miners in the state. Arch Coal announced they were going to lay off up to 750 miners in Kentucky and West Virginia.

These coal mining companies blamed a dramatic drop in coal demand from utilities as the reason for the job cuts.

Being an heir of the family fortune insulates Rockefeller from the financial plight of hardworking Americans. He has never felt the mental anguish of losing a job and its awful consequences of dependency and loss of dignity.

While West Virginia coal jobs burn, Rockefeller fiddles away, criticizing those who dare to expose his elite progressive core. Rockefeller makes a mockery of representative government and endangers our liberty – facts that must dominate his legacy.

Tom Borelli, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow with FreedomWorks.

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