OCTOBER 31, 2014

Coal, Candidates, and the Commonwealth: Alison Lundergan Grimes' Plans for Kentucky and Coal

Olivia Snider, Staff Member

We are just days away from determining the outcome of one of the largest U.S. Senate races in the country, and the fast-approaching Election Day has political ads abounding. Despite the barrage of ads designed to illuminate what each candidate stands for, the citizens of Kentucky are left wondering who really has the Commonwealth’s best interest at heart.

No issue concerns that interest more than the issue of coal. With the coal industry contributing billions of dollars to Kentucky and employing nearly 12,000 people in the Commonwealth,[i] it seems likely that the candidate who best presents herself or himself as the “champion of coal” will be the winner of this Senatorial race. Candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes’ policies on Kentucky coal and her endorsement from the United Mine Workers of America indicate that she may very well be that champion.[ii]

In the midst of consistent attempts by her opponent, Senator Mitch McConnell, to compare her to President Obama and portray her as “Obama’s Kentucky candidate,”[iii] Grimes has steadfastly voiced her opposition to the President’s anti-coal policies.[iv] Grimes contends that “[t]his Administration has taken direct aim at Kentucky’s coal industry, crippling our state’s largest source of domestic energy and threatening thousands of jobs.”[v]

Along with her opposition to the President’s detrimental policies on coal, Grimes has articulated many of her own pro-coal policies.[vi] Grimes asserts that she has “. . . laid out a jobs plan that pledges that as a United States Senator, [she] will fight for a national energy policy that has a prominent role for abundant coal, encourages and funds development of clean-coal technology and supports coal as an important export product.”[vii] She states that she will “fight to make sure we bring clean coal technology here to Kentucky to protect our good coal jobs, and making sure we are growing our economy . . .”[viii]

Grimes promises do not just concern growing the industry of coal, however, as she claims she will work to do everything she can to provide safety and security to those who work in the coal mines.[ix] Grimes vows that, unlike her opponent, her time in Washington will be spent making sure that the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration does its job of ensuring that mines are safe, that a reasonable number of mine safety inspectors are deployed, and that corrective actions are taken for violations.[x] She also expresses commitment to mine workers affected by black lung disease and their interests in receiving their black-lung benefits “easily and dependably.”[xi]

Grimes’ policies on coal clearly indicate her willingness and desire to not only be a champion of coal, but also a champion of the Commonwealth.[xii] If coal policy is the deciding factor of which candidate has Kentucky’s best interest at heart, then it is clear that Alison Lundergan Grimes is that candidate.

[i] Ky. Energy and Env’t Cabinet, Ky. Coal Facts, at 3 (2014), available at http://energy.ky.gov/Coal%20Facts%20Library/Kentucky%20Coal%20Facts%20-%2014th%20Edition%20(2014).pdf.

[ii] See Alison For Kentucky, http://alisonforkentucky.com/issues/ (last visited Oct. 29, 2014); Joseph Gerth, Grimes, McConnell, Patterson – Where They Stand, Courier-Journal, Oct. 12, 2014, http://www.courierjournal.com/story/news/politics/elections/kentucky/2014/10/10/grimes-mcconnell-patterson-stand/17052061/; Hillary Thornton, United Mine Workers of America Rally for Alison Lundergan Grimes in Pikeville, WYMT, (Oct. 29, 2014) http://www.wkyt.com/wymt/home/headlines/United-Mine-Workers-of-America-rally-for-Alison-Lundergan-Grimes-in-Pikeville-280847782.html.

iii] Alison Lundergan Grimes: Obama’s Kentucky Candidate, http://www.obamaskentuckycandidate.com (last visited Oct. 29, 2014).

[iv] See Alison For Kentucky, supra note ii;  Gerth, supra note ii.

[v] Alison For Kentucky, supra note ii.

[vi] Id. Gerth, supra note ii.

[vii] Alison For Kentucky, supra note ii.

[viii] Thornton, supra note ii.

[ix] See Alison For Kentucky, supra note ii;; Thornton, supra note ii.

[x] Alison For Kentucky, supra note ii.

[xi] Id.

[xii] Id.; Thornton, supra note ii.