Thursday, May 5, 2016

Is Sanders pandering to coal interests? or does he understand the need for a just transition?

Here's a quote from the New York Times coverage of Sanders' speech in West Virginia today (accompanied by a photo of him in Lexington, Kentucky yesterday):
While I strongly believe we need to combat climate change to make our planet habitable for our children and our grandchildren, let me be clear:  We cannot abandon communities that have been dependent on coal and other fossil fuels. ... In my view, we have got to invest $41 billion rebuilding coal mining communities and making sure that Americans in McDowell County and all over this country receive the job training they need for the clean energy jobs of the future.
To me, that sounds like he might be pandering to "coal country" and the voters there, but not to coal interests.  Sounds like he's talking the talk of a just transition from coal, and it makes me wonder what he would say about the need for a just transition for rural economies facing similar challenges when those economies are not extraction-based.

And here is an excerpt from a piece that ran on Slate a few days ago.  It is headlined, "Donald Trump Clearly Thinks Hillary Clinton is Vulnerable in This One Area.  She Is."  Journalist Jeremy Stahl explains that the "one area" is international trade, and the piece goes on to talk about coal miners in particular:
Trump mentioned how Hillary said in March that "we're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business." She apologized to a tearful, recently laid off coal miner on Monday for those remarks, but this is clearly still a weakness that Trump plans to exploit.

“I watched her three or four weeks ago when she was talking about the miners as if they were just numbers and she was talking about she wants the mines closed and she will never let them work again,” Trump said. “Let me tell you: the miners in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, which was so great to me last week and Ohio and all over, they're going to start to work again, believe me. You're going to be proud again to be miners.”

Ohio and Pennsylvania both went to Barack Obama in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections and would prove critical to the GOP’s chances of success were the party to somehow make it a close general election contest.

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