Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

November 2, 2012

Pocahontas Coal president: ‘Fighting for our lives, our livelihood’

BLUEFIELD, Va. — For the past four years, political leaders appeared to be treating coal like it was a dirty word. However, when Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for president, made the development of domestic energy resources as a major component of his campaign, coal appears more like an acceptable four-letter word.

“I think the interest in coal is well-reflected in the presidential campaigns,” Rick Taylor said. Taylor is president of the Pocahontas Coal Association, a grass-roots organization that represents small coal operators in Southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia.

“Coal was mentioned in each of the three debates,” Taylor said. “Coal hasn’t been part of the national discussion like that for years. To say coal doesn’t play a part in this year’s general election is overlooking what’s been happening in the campaigns.”

Last week, Dave Wasserman noted in the “Cook Political Report” that Southwest Virginia is demonstrating some solid numbers in response to a perceived war on coal by President Barack Obama’s administration. According to that report, U.S. Senator John McCain carried Southwest Virginia by 15 points against Obama in 2008.

“Absentee and early voting activity in 2012 in these markets is already over 58 percent of the 2008 total,” according to information supplied by the Romney campaign. “In comparison (as of Oct. 26) turnout is only 52 percent of ‘08 in the Norfolk, Va., market where Obama won by 10 points in ‘08, and less than 55 percent of ‘08 in the D.C. market.”

“It seems to me that the pro-coal people are more active this election than the anti-coal people,” Taylor said.

“All of our area is Democrats, but I feel like this, for us, is a very important election. We see this election as though we’re fighting for our lives ... our livelihoods,” Taylor said.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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