February 4th, 2017

So, writing in a letter-to-the-editor in my hometown newspaper, The Marietta Times, my representative in Congress, Jim Renacci, (R-OH), expresses concern about saving coal jobs in Ohio. Here’s a question: how many coal jobs are there in Renacci’s district?

I may be wrong, but I’ve been unable to identify any active coal mines in Ohio’s 16th District. Why is Renacci suddenly so interested in coal jobs? Perhaps because the owners of Ohio (and other) mines are making contributions to Renacci’s war chest? Perhaps because he owes favors to representatives who—like fellow Republicans Brad Wenstrup (OH-2), Bob Gibbs (OH-7) and Steve Stivers(OH-15)—do have active coal mines and coal miners in their districts? Given the choice of The Marietta Times, however, my money is on Bill Johnson (OH-6).

Renacci’s letter is as good an example of fawning misdirection and obfuscation as can be found. Take just his opening paragraph:

Coal has provided almost half of America’s electricity over the past decade. [That is, of course, no justification for continuing that reality. Would Renacci agree that since a Democratic President governed our great nation for the past eight years, somehow that reality ought to have been perpetuated? I think not. JH] This affordable natural resource [Coal is now more expensive (and getting more so daily) than solar power. JH] is an integral part of our domestic energy portfolio, and technological improvements mean coal is burning cleaner today than ever before. [Thanks to decades of stringent Federal regulations and the Environmental Protection Agency that President Donald John Trump (and Renacci) seek to dismantle. JH] In fact, coal plants built today can be [But are not likely to be, thanks to additional costs/draw downs on profits. JH] as much as 99% cleaner than ones built 40 years ago. [In 2011, coal burning plants in the United States dumped 1.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide into our air. If we were to magically make those plants 99 percent cleaner, then we would reduce those emissions to 17 million tons of carbon dioxide. Better, if we had the ability to force (through regulation) the coal companies to actually do that, but still not acceptable. JH]

I could go on and on and on. Fisking Renacci’s letter is like shooting the proverbial barreled fish.

Jim Renacci has no interest in protecting jobs other than his own. He is only interested in protecting the profits of his corporate masters. If my representative were actually interested in protecting jobs, and not profits for billionaires, then he would sponsor a bill providing for the education and support of coal workers so as to minimize the disruption of their lives and the lives of their families and their communities as we rapidly wean our already great nation off of coal and redirect our efforts to 21st century industries and growth.


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