Clinton plan for coal states not believable

Apparently a substantial number of West Virginians actually believe Hillary Clinton plans to help us after she completes the project Barack Obama began – wrecking the coal industry and driving electricity prices up. Either that, or quite a few Mountain State voters just don’t care what happens to coal and coal-generated electricity.

During the May 10 primary election, Clinton got chased out of the state with her tail between her legs. Her opponent for the Democrat nomination for president, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, won every county.

But Clinton did receive some support. She got 86,354 votes to Sanders’ 123,860, out of a total of 241,016 cast by Democrats (30,802 voters couldn’t stand to back either of them and went with other candidates).

So, more than one-third of Democrats who voted May 10 in West Virginia think Clinton’s OK.

Some of them, sad to say, think it would be a great idea to shut down every mine and every coal-fired power plant in the United States. Lots of luck to them in paying their electric bills.

But some of the pro-Clinton voters may believe her claims that she has a plan to save coal-producing states. Why, she wants to spend $30 billion doing that, she says.

Something like two-thirds of Americans don’t believe much Clinton says, according to public opinion polls. So we’ll just have to take her word that she’d really follow through on the $30 billion.

What if she does? Will life in West Virginia be a bowl full of cherries?

Hardly. For starters, she’s counting on voters in every coal-producing state to believe they’d be getting $30 billion. But West Virginia isn’t the only state being hurt by Obama’s war on coal.

There are lots of ways to look at how the $30 billion might be distributed. Let’s use coal mine employment in the eight states hit hardest (West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Alabama, Virginia and Ohio, in descending order of mining jobs).

By that yardstick, the Mountain State would receive about one-third of Clinton’s fund – $10 billion (Ohioans are out of luck, at about $1.5 billion).

Is there anyone naive enough to believe that $10 billion would transform West Virginia’s economy away from reliance on coal and low-cost electricity generated from it? One suspects that much could be spent in McDowell County alone without making much of a dent.

What, exactly, is Clinton’s plan? If you’re interested in the whole proposal, it’s available on the web at www.hillaryclinton.com/briefing/factsheets/2015/11/12/clinton-plan-to-revitalize-coal-communities/.

Suffice it to say there are very few specifics in the document. Some of the money would be spent to “ensure health and retirement security” – things the government ought to be doing anyway.

Clinton also would put money into new roads, water and sewer systems, etc. And, she would “repurpose mine lands and power plant sites.” No word on how she’s going to convince job creators to locate facilities there.

Clinton would “expand broadband access” – a noble goal, to be sure, but again, how’s that going to bring new jobs to coal country?

She pledges to do more on coal research. Really? If that sounds familiar, you’ve heard it before from Obama – who proceeded to slash federal funding for clean-coal technology.

Then there’s “education and training.” As one miner interviewed while Clinton was in West Virginia put it, to do what? To apply for jobs that don’t exist in our state? Or to be told the newly retrained miner can move to California – if he can sell his house in Logan County?

Brace yourself. Part of the $30 billion would go for “arts and culture.” Ever notice that it’s difficult to get too worked up about arts and culture when you don’t have a job or can’t pay the electric bill?

And you wonder why so many West Virginians like Donald Trump?

Mike Myer can be reached at mmyer@theintelligencer.net.