King Coal Ready to Ante-Up for Elections

Written by Amanda Starbuck

Topics: Coal

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'Spike' Maynard and Don Blankenship vacationing in the French Riviera

Earlier this year, the supreme court ruled in the “Citizens United” case that corporations can spend unlimited funds on candidate elections.

The coal industry is getting set to take advantage.

The Lexington Herald-Leader obtained a letter sent by Roger Nicholson, senior vice president International Coal Group to other coal companies proposing they pool their resources in some key election races. He writes:

“With the recent Supreme Court ruling, we are in a position to be able to take corporate positions that were not previously available in allowing our voices to be heard … a number of coal industry representatives recently have been considering developing a 527 entity with the purpose of attempting to defeat anti-coal incumbents in select races, as well as elect pro-coal candidates running for certain open seats.”

International Coal Group wants to target Democratic U.S. Reps. Ben Chandler of Kentucky and Nick Rahall of West Virginia, and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway in Kentucky. While all of these politicians consider themselves “pro-coal”, they are facing challenges from some real coal-industry lapdogs.

For example Jack Conway is running against Tea Party darling Rand Paul who last week declared his love for mountaintop removal mining with this soundbite: “We’re not talking about Mount Everest. We’re talking about these little knobby hills that are everywhere out here.”

Nick Rahall is facing a challenge from ‘Spike’ Maynard. If that name sounds familiar, then you may remember that Maynard came under intense criticism for casting the deciding vote in favor of setting aside a $76 million judgment against Massey Energy Company when it later emerged that Maynard was close friends with Massey’s CEO, Don Blankenship, and has vacationed in the French Rivera with him.

International Coal Group is the 5th biggest producer of MTR coal, mining more than 4.5 million tonnes in Appalachia in 2009. Like Massey, they have come under scrutiny for a poor safety record, 12 miners were killed in disaster at ICG’s Sago mine in 2006.

2 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Join us on September 25-7 in Washington, D.C. at Appalachia Rising, a mass mobilization calling for the abolition of mountaintop removal and surface mining. Appalachia Rising is is a national response to the poisoning of America’s water supply, the destruction of Appalachia’s mountains, head water source streams, and communities through mountaintop removal coal mining. It follows a long history of social action for a just and sustainable Appalachia.
    Appalachia Rising strives to unite coalfield residents, grass roots groups, individuals, and national organizations to call for the abolition of mountaintop removal coal mining and demand that America’s water be protected from all forms of surface mining.

    Appalachia Rising will consist of two events. First, the weekend conference, Sept. 25-26, Appalachia Rising, Voices from the Mountains will provide an opportunity to build or join the movement for justice in Appalachia through strategy discussions and share knowledge across regional and generational lines. The second event on Monday, Sept.27, is the Appalachia Rising Day of Action which will unify thousands in calling for an end to mountaintop removal and all forms of steep slope surface mining though a vibrant march and rally. An act of dignified non-violent civil disobedience will be possible for those who wish to express themselves by risking arrest.

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