News Brief: ‘The War on Coal’ in Kentucky

The Obama administration and Harry Reid have declared a ‘war on coal’ in Kentucky, putting national Democrats on defense and Alison Lundergan Grimes in a tough, ‘awkward’ spot. Below are this morning’s top headlines on the issue.

The War on Coal Puts Democrats on Defense (U.S. News)

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Bluegrass State of Kentucky where Democrat Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is desperately trying, with little success, to distance herself from President Obama and her anti-coal Senate leader, Harry Reid. As Kentucky’s WFPL reported earlier this year, coal production in Kentucky is already at the lowest levels in the past half century even before these new regulations. Grimes’ effort to speak out this week actually achieved the exact opposite goal – Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett quickly and publicly credited her opponent, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, for being the industry’s chief supporter on Capitol Hill.

Coal in Obama’s climate crosshairs (Politico)

“The President is leading a war on coal and what that really means for Kentucky families is a war on jobs,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement late Thursday, as details of the proposal began to leak out. “And the announcement by the EPA is another back door attempt by President Obama to fulfill his long-term commitment to shut down our nation’s coal mines.”

DYCHE OPINION | Mitch McConnell & Grimes: Contrast On Coal (WDRB)

“It is amusing to watch Grimes try to portray herself as a friend of coal while cozying up to its worst enemies.  This issue will have big impact on the Senate race because the Kentucky coal industry is facing some of its toughest times ever from the combined effect of Obama’s war on coal and the natural gas boom.”

Senate hopeful Alison Lundergan Grimes bashed in Kentucky over links to Sen. Harry Reid (Washington Times)

“Grimes is trying to fool Kentuckians — serving up platitudes on Obamacare and coal while getting ready to raise cash in Las Vegas with Harry Reid, the chief defender of Obamacare and the War on Coal,” said Riggs Lewis, board member of Kentuckians for Strong Leadership. “Alison Grimes has two new middle names: Harry Reid — and everyone in Kentucky is going to know it.” 

Kentucky Coal Leader Doubts Alison Lundergan Grimes Could Be Stronger Advocate Than Mitch McConnell (WFPL)

“That is appreciated,” says Bissett. “But when you consider we’re hearing a lot of rumors about upcoming fundraisers with Sen. Harry Reid, there is a real question of what that relationship is going to be with someone who has carried out all of the president’s marching order against coal in the Senate. It is my understanding that if someone gives you money, you expect them to think and act like they do.” Grimes’s positions on coal also doesn’t help her with environmentalists and the liberal wing of the Democratic Party in the state, who see little daylight between their presumptive nominee and McConnell

Senate Democrats Blocking McConnell’s Coal Bill Puts Alison Lundergan Grimes in Tough Spot (WFPL)

A coal industry leader had already raised doubts about Grimes being a more effective voice for Kentucky coal operators and miners than McConnell. But Reid’s maneuvering raises further questions about whether Grimes can stand up to the Democratic leader while relying on him politically to unseat McConnell.

McConnell’s Kentucky Coal Politics Play Out on Senate Floor (Roll Call)

“I might just say we have a genuine emergency in Kentucky, a depression in Eastern Kentucky, as a result of what this administration has done and is about to further do this very week directed at the jobs and livelihood of my constituents,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

Prospects dimming for Obama’s energy regulator nominee (Reuters)

“Binz has a proven track record of hostility toward coal and other traditional fossil fuels,” McConnell, from the coal-producing state of Kentucky, said in a statement. “I cannot support Binz’s nomination as the next chairman of FERC. His nomination is yet another threat to American energy and jobs and I will work to defeat it.” McConnell’s statement is the latest blow to President Barack Obama’s pick to lead the commission. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, another coal-rich state, on Wednesday said he would not vote for Binz.

McConnell Fires Up Case Against EPA Coal Rules (Wall Street Journal)

“It’s just the latest administration salvo in its never ending war on coal–a war against the very people who provide power and energy for our country,” Sen. McConnell said. He is pushing the Saving Coal Jobs Act, which would rescind the EPA’s ability to regulate power-plant emissions and streamline coal-mine permitting.

Reid kills vote to stop ‘war on coal’ (Daily Caller)

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has killed an effort by his Republican counterpart Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass a bill that would prevent the Obama administration from issuing regulations that burden the coal industry. McConnell asked for unanimous consent to pass the “Saving Coal Jobs Act,” but was blocked by Reid who objected.”

Grimes, McConnell spar on coal issues (CNHI)

The association with Reid doesn’t escape notice in the coal fields, said Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association. While making clear the association does not endorse candidates, Bissett said Reid’s assistance to Grimes’ campaign “is concerning.”

2014 U.S. Senate campaign spills onto the U.S. Senate floor as McConnell and Reid spar over coal (CN|2)

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell squared off with Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry Reid over McConnell’s Saving Coal Jobs Act on the Senate floor Thursday morning. McConnell read the bill on the floor of the Senate and asked for unanimous consent to pass the legislation, which McConnell described as a combination of two previous bills that remain bottled in committee. “The bill would essentially repeal the administrations deceleration of war against coal,” McConnell said. “The first part of the bill would prevent the EPA from regulating carbon on new and existing coal plants. The second would force the EPA to stop stalling on mining permits.” Reid objected to McConnell’s motion and the Senate moved to other business.

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