Yesterday, the War on Coal, one of the most egregious of President Obama's assault on the American dream, reached the halls of power in Pennsylvania with an unannounced press conference in Harrisburg. Anastasia Przybylski, PA Field Director for FreedomWorks and co-Chair of The Kitchen Table Patriots, invited coal miner Gary Dubois, Mark Fischer, Council Member in Waynesburg and candidate for the State House of Representatives in District 50, Kevin Shivers, State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Dr. Thomas Borelli, Senior Fellow with FreedomWorks, his wife Deneen Borelli Director of Outreach for Freedomworks, and John Pippy, former State Senator and CEO of Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, to detail how Obama's war on coal is destroying a key component in America's socioeconomic fabric
Carol Vogel, a resident of Greene County, detailed how electric bills in her area are set to increase in her area five-fold by 2015. The "EPA regulations are killing us" she said before the start of the press conference. "They've shut down 100 out of the 500 coal plants and are slated to shut down 200 more – that's 3/5 of all the plants closed." While not a member of a coal mining family, she attended to show her support for jobs, affordable energy, and for the families who are set to struggle paying their electric bills if we don't stop this assault on coal. She also noted that there's nothing to replace coal and it will "hit everyone's pocket book – class doesn't matter."
Pat Vanderslice and Cheryl Tressler, central Pennsylvania locals, said they showed up to support "American jobs, access to affordable energy, and efforts to keep commodities prices down. Coal, in many parts of the country, is the life's blood to a lot of local businesses. Remove coal, and prices are set to increase on most items. That's a tax increase. Additionally, Obama's war on coal is set to destroy communities that have been established for generations. As Marc Grove, another attendee, said, for these folks, "it's either coal, or unemployment."
Anastasia Przybylski began the conference with her story on how she become involved in politics and public policy. She said that her transition from mini-driving mom to political activist came from the economic effects of Obama's policies and how it impacted her livelihood. "As a mom, I'm the one who has to balance the checkbook," she said in her opening remarks. She stated that she didn't want her electric bills to eat into her kids' extracurricular activities or any aspect of her family expenditures just because Barack Obama hates coal.
Mark Fischer detailed how coal was always the beacon of hope, even in bad times, because its positive effect on the local economies would never waver. Coal would always be there. Now, with Obama's crusade to destroy the industry, we stand to lose thousands of jobs, and Fischer reiterated how we all need to think how that will impact their families and the families of those dependent on coal mining for their businesses.
Kevin Shivers, chief lobbyist for NFIB, stated that Obama's remarks back in 2008 was the first shot fired in the war on coal. Shivers said that if anyone has any doubts about the war on coal, they should ask one of the 1200 members of Alpha Natural Resources, who lost their jobs due to Obama's regulatory onslaught.
Shivers aptly noted the administration's narrative towards coal was simple: "if you built it, they will kill it." As this regulatory onslaught on American energy continues, the middle class, consumers, and workers have been crushed by new government mandates and taxes. Shivers said, that Sen. Bob Casey shares part of the blame for supporting the president's agenda that has inflicted economic hardship on the residents of the Keystone state. Shivers concluded by saying the war on coal, at its heart, is an attack on Pennsylvania jobs and energy independence.
Dr. Tom Borelli and his wife Deneen, who is also the author of Blacklash: How Obama and the Left are Driving American to the Government Plantation, slammed the Obama administration for their plans to close 200 coal plants throughout the country, and picking winners and losers in this economy. The winners are Obama's campaign friends, who recieved 80% of the $90 billion in green energy loans. The losers are the American taxpayers and coal mining families. One such casualty was Patriot Coal, which was forced into bankruptcy thanks to Obama. Back in January, CBS did an excellent report showing the fragility within the green energy market. Out of 12 companies that received energy loans, all were either in serious financial shape or went into bankruptcy.
Dr. Borelli rightfully said that crony capitalism is destroying American enterprise and Sen. Casey continues to sit in the cheap seats, watching Pennsylvanians suffer under this administration.
Deneen Borelli was much more forceful, calling the president "a liar, a deceiver, and an empty suit." She proclaimed that we will not be held captive to cradle to grave EPA regulations that are destroying the coal industry. Borelli eviscerated the Obama administration's audacity to destroy coal. "It's destroying the lives of Americans and their families," she said. In all, it's a war on hard-working Americans. After taking aim at Obama, Borelli, as most of the people slated to speak did, took issue with Sen. Casey, who has done nothing to protect Pennsylvania's interests.
Borelli concluded that it's wrong to bankrupt business. It's wrong to push Americans out onto the street and leave them with nothing. How are they suppose to support their families? It's time for the Casey/Obama alliance to end.
Gary Dubois, a coal miner with almost thirty years of experience, detailed how the war on coal narrative is catching on with the electorate. He made simple signs that read "Stop the War on Coal: Fire Obama" and sold over 1500 signs by end of his first order. They have been seen across numerous states. One poignant story he told was about a twenty-year old Floridian man who was trying to earn a living with his girlfriend that had just graduated high school. A person trying to support himself and achieve the benefits of the American dream, but faces uncertainty under the heavy hand of government regulation.
When former State Senator John Pippy came to the podium, he adamantly said that we're an energy rich nation. Pippy is the CEO of the newly formed PA Coal Alliance, which represents 41,000 workers. He said we have centuries worth of coal beneath our feet, along with natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, to make the United State energy independent. However, Barack Obama and his administration "hate coal." They've added 148 new regulation on top of existing laws. Sen. Pippy also noted that 90% of PA's coal goes directly to electricity production. That's power that charges your iPhone, heats your home, maintains your air conditioning, and keeps your local medical services running (i.e life support systems). If you shut that down, needless to say, the cost of power will go up for everyone.
The resonance this issue is astounding. As mentioned above, this press conference was unannounced, but the Capitol rotunda was quickly filled by representatives of the state legislature or their aides.
Those in attendance included:
Sen. Dan White- Indiana County
Rep. Scott Hutchinson- Venango County
Rep. Jeff Pyle- Armstrong County
Rep. Jerry Knowles- Schuylkill County
Rep. Carl Metzgar- Somerset County
Rep. Kurt Masser- Colombia County
Rep. Donna Oberlander- Clarion County
Rep .Kathy Rapp- Warren County
Rep. Steve Barrar- Delaware County
Rep. Rick Saccone- Allegheny County
Rep. Matt Gabler- Elk and Clearfield County
Rep. Dick Hess- Bedford County
Rep. Gene Yaw- Lycoming County
Pennsylvania is a battleground state. Many who attended the conference were confident that PA will go for Romney. Currently, the state isn't out of reach for the Governor, but he's been spending most of his time in Ohio. Nevertheless, given that coal country encompasses Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, and a wide swath of land along the Appalachian trail, this could very well be where the election is decided. It also plays a role in deciding the political fate of a lot of State House Representative and Senators in coal-rich counties in Pennsylvania.
With the anger rising over this regulatory offensive on American enterprise, it's looking as if Obama's bad tryst with coal is going to hurt him and the Democratic Party in November.