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Last week, it was all smiles at Beyond Coal when the retirement was announced of the giant, much-protested Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts.

That's the 150th U.S. coal-powered generating plant to go that route since the beginning of 2010. It's the largest remaining coal-burner supplying electricity in New England. It's also one of the filthiest of the nation's power plants, ranked as 14th nationwide out of 378 by the NAACP for its negative impacts on minorities and people of modest means. Protesters have sought to shut the place down for years. In July, 44 were arrested for acts of civil disobedience at the plant.

There is little doubt that the shutdown is good news for the planet.

But what will happen to the 240 workers at Brayton Point? And to the community of Somerset? For that matter, what will happen to all the other American communities and individuals whose livelihoods depend on coal being dug and burned when the shutdown campaign succeeds nationwide? Can their interests, can they, merely be given a sympathetic nod followed by a shrug, and then cast aside, sacrificed for the greater good?

coalfield
Only believers in a devil-take-the-hindmost society can deny that there is a matter of justice here. Only the uncivilized, whether lawmakers or political movements, seek to impose policies without attention to ameliorating the impact these may have on already vulnerable people. Given that coal communities have always been the first casualties of our use of this resource, subsidizing our demand for cheap energy with damage to their health and environment, they deserve not to be victimized again. Policies that eliminate jobs and cause other severe impacts should include ample provisions to redevelop affected communities in a sustainable manner and to help displaced individuals navigate a transition to new jobs. Window-dressing policies are unacceptable.

Van Jones told an interviewer in 2008:

I think it's important that we be respectful of all the contributions that have been made by all workers. Even our coal workers are heroes in a way ... in that they've been asked to sacrifice their lungs, their health, their communities. We're now asking our coal miners to blow up their grandmother's mountains! Awful ... Mountain top removal and strip-mining ... Those coal miners don't set the energy policy in this country but they have to make the sacrifices to carry it out. I think that sometimes we aren't respectful enough, that we're not as encouraging and honoring of the people who have gotten America to this point.
President Barack Obama on June 25, 2013, said:
We’re going to need to give special care to people and communities that are unsettled by this transition—not just here in the United States but around the world.  And those of us in positions of responsibility, we’ll need to be less concerned with the judgment of special interests and well-connected donors, and more concerned with the judgment of posterity. Because you and your children, and your children’s children, will have to live with the consequences of our decisions.
The brilliant writer and activist Jeremy Brecher recently wrote:
To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, if God had intended some people to fight just for the environment and others to fight just for the economy, he would have made some people who could live without money and others who could live without water and air. There are not two groups of people, environmentalists and workers. We all need a livelihood and we all need a livable planet to live on. If we don’t address both, we’ll starve together while we’re waiting to fry together.
Brecher's condensed eloquence may seem obvious. But we have had, and continue to have, a long-standing argument between people who say the economy and the environment are separate entities and other people who take the point of view that the two have been inextricably entwined ever since Neanderthals and Early Modern Humans started dating and trading flint-knapping tricks a few dozen millennia ago.

Count me among the believers of permanent entanglement and its corollary: Neither the environment nor the economy can have policy primacy over the other if either is to be sustained. If we are to thrive.

Please read below the fold to read about worker transitions in a coal-free environment.

Before going on, it should be noted that neither Beyond Coal, which has only been around three years, nor other environmental organizations can take full credit for the shutdown of those 150 coal plants. Many are decaying relics that wouldn't have been been kept operational even if they weren't ever more hemmed in by inefficiencies, environmental regulations and competition.

The shutdowns are the outcome of a complex combination of factors, including new federal regulations like the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and the soon-to-be-implemented New Source Performance Standards on coal-fired power plants, state requirements that utilities provide a percentage of their electricity from renewable sources, efficiencies and conservation measures that have lowered electrical use and a switch to more efficient generators using cleaner natural gas for fuel.

Environmental advocates are, however, responsible for the fact those new federal standards and state requirements and efficiencies and conservation even exist. Regulating carbon dioxide emissions was not on the agenda in Washington until activists made it so with lawsuits and actions. Those who claim the accelerated pace of coal plant shutdowns is all about technological advance are wrong.

Nowhere is the fact of eco-econ entanglement more strikingly illustrated than when it comes to coal. The industrial revolution that made possible today's economy was powered by coal. Excavating it from the earth and burning it created previously unbelievable wealth and, in some privileged places, a large middle class. Simultaneously, coal poisoned the water, the land, the air and us. Tens of thousands of Americans still die prematurely every year from exposure to coal. The health costs surpass $60 billion a year. Worldwide the damage mirrors America's.

Worst of all, as climate scientists have made pretty damn clear to anybody without a vested interest in claiming otherwise, burning coal (and other fossil fuels) have been mucking up our oceans and atmosphere for some time. The chaotic climatological consequences are now arriving. Perhaps over time what's been already done to bring about these consequences can be undone, partially at least, but right now all we can do is try not to make matters worse.

To help accomplish that prevention, thousands of activists in hundreds of organizations—national and local—have sought to stop burning coal by blocking the construction of new power plants that use it and getting older plants shuttered. The fight is not just limited to burning coal here. Activists also seek in several ways to make it more difficult to export coal.

The ultimate goal is no secret. Stop burning coal. Period. This means no more coal miners, no more strip-mine drag-line operators, no more coal-fired plant operators and hundreds of thousands of empty railroad hopper cars. Which makes for a lot of people out of work. Not just those assigned to handling the coal-related tasks, but all the people who sell them groceries, provide them entertainment, teach their kids.

They can't just be tossed away even though that's been the corporate attitude forever.

It's not as if nobody is thinking about the needs of those affected. Policies to deal with dislocations caused by shutting down coal and other climate-protection measures have been discussed at high levels under the rubric of "transition assistance." But, as Joe Uehlein, former secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO's Industrial Union Department  wrote four years ago, something has been lost on the way from the think-tanks to the legislative arenas:

Unfortunately, “transition assistance” in the past has often meant little more than a funeral for workers and communities threatened by the side effects of globalization, environmental protection and other public policies. Without a clear program to protect workers from the effects of climate protection, the struggle against global warming can all too easily come to be perceived as a struggle against American workers. Workers have often felt threatened by measures to protect the environment. Today such fears are likely to be augmented, especially in a time of soaring unemployment, by the large changes necessary to protect the planet from global warming.
Got that? A clear program. Not some vague promise of "green jobs" and community redevelopment but serious plans and serious funding to actually make this happen.
coal train
It's not something that has gotten much public attention, but environmental activists have for some time been working together with community leaders, labor unions and indigenous communities to develop what's being called a "Just Transition."

In fact, a Just Transition Coalition was created especially to press forward a deal between the Hopi and Navajo Indian tribes with Southern California Edison to support the growth of renewable energy on their reservations in the wake of the closing of the coal-burning Mohave Generating Plant in 2005. An ad hoc coalition also negotiated with Gov. Chris Gregoire in mutually agreed speeded-up shutdown of the Trans-Alta coal-fired power plant in Centralia, Washington.

The Mohave deal was particularly controversial, which is one reason it took so long to come to fruition.

After the Mohave plant closed eight years ago, Southern California Edison, which owned 56 percent of the operation, accumulated Clean Air Act sulfur pollution credits that it no longer needed under the Acid Rain Cap and Trade program. These it sold to coal-plant operators in other parts of the country. Advocates for the Hopi and Navajo argued before the California Public Utilities Commission that during its 34-year-life the plant had not only polluted the area but also sucked up vast amounts of fossil water to run a coal slurry from the Black Mesa mine to the generating station. Given that history, CPUC ruled in February this year that revenues from the sale of the credits would go into a revolving fund to provide start-up money for renewable energy projects that benefit the two tribes.

And what of Brayton? A year before the closure was announced, in a 2012 document—Brayton Point Coal Plant: Operating at Our Expense—Coal Free, a Massachusetts coalition dedicated to phasing out coal burners in the state by 2020, the authors state:

In Somerset, those who have borne the devastating health burdens caused by coal are now threatened, economically and socially, by the disintegration of jobs and revenues that have funded the basic operations of their town. Finding a solution for the future—a just transition—means resolving a tripled conundrum of health, wealth and workforce.

Efforts have taken place across the country to redevelop coal plants and other industrial facilities, such as old mill sites and closed military bases. Community residents and local and state officials can draw on both national and local example to determine best practices for Somerset.

Well-intentioned, no doubt. But those words of concern appear cut-and-pasted from consultantese boilerplate. What specifically should be done to assist workers who lose their jobs is left unstated. As is funding. No adequate source of money for the transition is mentioned anywhere.

The new owners of Brayton, the ones who took just a few months after buying the facility to decide it was not worth operating, claim they will take measures to mitigate the harm the 2017 shutdown causes. Perhaps so. This has occasionally occurred. But even the most optimistic observer knows whatever measures are implemented, they almost certainly will not be enough.

What's needed is a national Just Transition policy.

Please don't remind me that the current make-up of Congress makes passing any worthwhile policy out of the question. I've heard about that.

It's the long view that matters, not just what we can get done today. It's crucial that progressives—rank-and-file activists working with elected leaders of vision—propose good policy even at times they don't have the political clout to get it legislated. By letting Americans know what they have in mind, they up their chances of getting enough votes to gain that political clout.

Communities are unique. Vast differences exist between the coal miners of Appalachia, some with three or more generations of coal miners in the family, and the heavy equipment operators in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana. So, as with all policy measures, one size does not fit all when it comes to transition assistance.

Nonetheless, a national transition policy with flexibilities built in for local differences could go much further than merely ameliorating the situation as the coal industry shuts down. We should think big.

Brecher again, in the midst of the Great Recession but still quite relevant:

Just as the New Deal in the Great Depression of the 1930s put millions of unemployed people to work doing the jobs America’s communities needed, so today we need a “Green New Deal” to rebuild our energy, transportation, building, and other systems to drastically reduce the climate-destroying greenhouse gas pollution they pour into the air. Such a program would put an end the “jobs versus environment” conflict because environmental protection would produce millions of new jobs and expansion of jobs would protect the environment. Such a program provides a road for both labor and environmentalists to move beyond our current dilemma.
Following that path would mean that a Just Transition would be simply one of many elements of a broader program. A Just Transition for all displaced workers could be infused in a new economy. Not merely technologically new. That is happening anyway. And certainly not just one that expands the economy we already have. Such a conventional expansion would also expand the inequality in wealth and income as well as environmental wreckage that the current economy has already given us. In other words an UnJust Transition favoring the 1% with crumbs for the rest of us.

In announcing a Climate Justice Alliance "camp" last June for training people interested in working on a Just Transition in their own communities, Bill Gallegos, executive director of Communities for a Better Environment and a CJA Steering Committee member, said: “We can create quality jobs by retooling the infrastructure in our regions. We need to divest from dirty energy and the ‘greed economy’ and invest in a transition to local living economies and community resilience."

Said Jihan Gearon, another CJA Steering Committee member and executive director of the Black Mesa Water Coalition, “We can have power without pollution and energy without injustice.”

Yes, we can. Yes, we must.

Coal power plant

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS, DK GreenRoots, In Support of Labor and Unions, Daily Kos Labor, and Daily Kos Economics.

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Comment Preferences

  •  environmental justice is planned justice (25+ / 0-)
    Nonetheless, a national transition policy with flexibilities built in for local differences could go much further than merely ameliorating the situation as the coal industry shuts down. We should think big.... “We can have power without pollution and energy without injustice.”
    It is the historic need to combat the absolute destructiveness of the system of capital at this stage—replacing it, as Marx envisioned, with a society of substantive equality and ecological sustainability—which, I am convinced, constitutes the essential meaning of revolution in our time.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:07:20 PM PDT

    •  Justice for the workers... (12+ / 0-)

      We need clean energy, that is a given. We need to change the way we rape the earth to get our energy resources, that is also a given. But what about the "Human Resources" part of the equation?

      Our focus has been so steady on protecting the environment and protecting the workers from unsafe conditions that we have been somewhat overlooking the one factor which is equally important. The workers' job future and the economy of the region as a whole.

      As we re-engineer our energy situation, we also need to figure out a way to accommodate the economic problems the changeover will take on the people that will end up losing their jobs and have to find some other line of work to support their families. It will take an immense effort to keep people from falling into dire economic times since many of these regions are single industry economies.

      "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately." -- George Carlin, Satirical Comic,(1937-2008)

      by Wynter on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:21:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  mineral extraction must be strategically (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        indubitably

        nationalized in that energy must be nationally coordinated with substitutability for example labor moving from coal extraction to other minerals vital to the national interest

        Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

        by annieli on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:24:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We approve of this comment (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bobtmn, MGross, Ed Gein

          Signed,

          The Cayman Islands bankers and accountants that handle to billions embezzled from Pemex.

          Nationalized US extraction industries won't be Statoil.  They will be Pemex.

          "states like VT and ID are not 'real america'" -icemilkcoffee

          by Utahrd on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:50:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  assuming the Same Old Capitalist Kleptocracy (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Meteor Blades

            but like old SOCKs they have to be changed eventually

            Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

            by annieli on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 03:05:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  why do I suspect the new socks... (0+ / 0-)

              ...will be just like the old socks on steroids? Probably because of the social inertia of systemic, ubiquitous corruption. The power brokers don't just have a few lawyers and accountants on their payroll. They employ entire law groups and accounting firms whose only mission in life is to move heaven and earth to find back doors, IRS loopholes and gray zones in just about any federal statute that gets in their way.

              And last but not least, only an idealogue living on a deserted island who willingly suspended all disbelief would deny the powers that be apply copious amounts of grease in the right palms(perks, vacations, offshore or untraceable bank accounts) to "persuade" Congressional and Executive watch dogs to look the other way. If you don't believe it just look at the default template for government corruption, influence peddling in the name of "national security": the MIC. Then look up Monsanto and how deep their octopus tentacles are entwined in the seats of government. Armies of lobbyists don't run the halls of Congress for their health. And PACS don't donate millions for no quid pro quo. And we won't even talk about the foreign government floodgates opened wide, even before Citizens United v. FEC. If that doesn't open anyone's eyes to the corruption, I don't know what will.

              "I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's way." John Paul Jones

              by ImpeachKingBushII on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 08:52:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Add a dash of irony (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ed Gein, Utahrd, LilithGardener

            "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

            by KateCrashes on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 05:23:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  When we say Transition (7+ / 0-)

    1) re-task-Utilize the miners existing skill set and find something else for them to dig out of a hole in the ground other than coal?

    2) Re-train-Find another set of skills for these folks to learn?

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:11:09 PM PDT

    •  As those who have been working on this... (24+ / 0-)

      ...for several years have discovered, it depends on the situation. We need to ask those affected what they need, not simply impose something.

      What the folks involved in the Trans-Alta coal shutdown discovered was that coal workers 50 and over were not interested in retraining but rather job security.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:13:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Transition to what? (17+ / 0-)

      Well, for one, wherever clear-cut mining has occurred, there are giant swaths of land in need of reforestation and other landscape operations to undo a century-plus of damage.  It does not require PhD-level skills, but I imagine it takes years of work to make sure the new growth holds.  In financial terms, to support a project like this would require the barest of budgets, like the TVA of the New Deal.  Big bang for the buck, while providing work for ex-miners until their retirement years, by which time the project (assuming success) can be phased out.

      This is just an idea.  Perhaps the forestry crowd could weigh in on this.  

      •  Well, personally, I think that "just an idea" ... (14+ / 0-)

        ...of yours is great and it could probably employ a lot more people than merely displaced coal workers.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 03:24:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  reclamation is like trying to unring a bell... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eikyu Saha

        ...and while I totally agree with the concept of providing job security for coal workers, I'm blown away with the sheer magnitude and scope of this daunting task presents in terms of costs in time, material, manpower, and financing.

        Here's just one website among thousands that weighed in on reclamation, and the photo galleries it has are heartbreaking:

        http://www.ohvec.org/...

        "Author Harry Caudill described strip mining reclamation efforts as akin to putting lipstick on a corpse. And that was before mountaintop removal / valley fill coal mining".

        From the site's introduction:

        "How can you reclaim the Central Appalachian's incredibly biodiverse mixed mesophytic forests (or "mitigate" for the region's biologically-crucial headwaters streams?)  You can't.

        If you don't live in our woods, it's hard to comprehend their richness. According to Central Appalachian edition of The Smithsonian Guides to Natural America, the Kanawha State Forest boasts "more than 1,000 species of trees and plants, including 23 types of wild orchids, within its 9,474 acres. Seven types of sunflowers, for instance, were in bloom...Fourteen trails wind for 25 miles amid various forest communities...They provide glimpses of the rich vegetation, including the fleshy little touch-me-nots, the sinewy American hornbeam, hemlocks, papaws, umbrella magnolias, witch hazels, asters, cardinal flowers, joe-pye weed, bloodroot, sycamores, sassafras and a wealth of goldenrod."

        Kanawha State Forest is typical of the Southern West Virginia mountains being annihilated by mountaintop removal coal mining. Indeed, a mountaintop removal site borders the southern edge of the forest".

        If you click on the photos of what strip mining has done to this once pristene land, you may want to grab a handkerchief. Or you may just get angry, as I did. "If you build it they will come". The need is there. The question remains: Will anyone fill it? Can anyone?

        "I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's way." John Paul Jones

        by ImpeachKingBushII on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 10:41:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good information there. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ImpeachKingBushII

          I wouldn't disagree with a word of it, and I realize that my comment can be taken as Pollyanna-ish.  But the immense damage to the landscape has already been done -- the land sits there in a haze of barren death.  

          Surely, doing something is better than doing nothing.  Of course the land cannot be returned to its original richness, but ...  nothing?  

          •  It can be used to grow perennial ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Eikyu Saha

            ... coppice tree crops for harvest for biomass. Indeed, the first use for the biomass can be to create biochar to bury into the degraded subsoil in order to establish a healthier soil for the trees to grow.

            Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

            by BruceMcF on Tue Oct 15, 2013 at 02:42:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  A lot of jobs remaining in coal mining (0+ / 0-)

      require somewhat specialized industrial type skills that could be transferred to fracking (you know, the reason why their jobs are in jeopardy in the first place) or to shale oil extraction, etc, which is really booming these days

      The hitch is that they'd have to move to a different part of the country (or at least different part of the state)

  •  Being from WV... (16+ / 0-)

    The main issue isn't retraining coal miners, but rather "to what"? Many of these Coal Towns are single industry regions. If the Coal industry folds up it's tents then most of the town will likely fold as well.

    West Virginia is one region that desperately needs a shot in the arm when it comes to diversifying it's economy. The boom of the coal era is over. And the state should have foreseen this coming by drawing in some other industry that could take over as the manpower needs dwindled. But the state has dragged it's heels for the longest time. And as such many smart young people have simply left the state for larger cities that have booming economies. Those unable to leave either by family obligations or lack of tech skills are chained to the coal economy as it dies off.

    They really need a boost from somewhere or the state's residents will suffer even more than they do now.

    "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately." -- George Carlin, Satirical Comic,(1937-2008)

    by Wynter on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:12:05 PM PDT

  •  Amazing diary, MB. (13+ / 0-)

    I don't know how you do it time and time again.

    Thank you.

    In the time it took Adam Lanza to reload, eleven children escaped. What if...

    by Sixty Something on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:14:09 PM PDT

    •  It is a wonderful diary. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KayCeSF, LilithGardener

      It's important that investment bankers can afford their beach houses. However restructuring needs to be done to provide useful lives and occupations for people rather than concentrating wealth at to the 1% with the resources and power to steal wages and savings from the rest.  

      You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.- Jeannette Rankin

      by CA148 NEWS on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 03:23:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Your making it very hard for me (8+ / 0-)

    to feel sympathy for so many people who had no sympathy toward others and the planet.  West Virginia and Wyoming are the black lungs of the Tea Party movement.  Many of these people, not all of course, have said and done some outright cruel things toward other people in need.

    But in the end you are right.  I can't let myself be drug down to the low level some of them have shown people can go, and there are still a lot of very good people who need help.  So maybe we can teach them that we believe in a government that helps people in need, and we can put our politics aside to make it happen.

    •  Being fair to all people... (16+ / 0-)

      ..is really what it's about. We can't act like those petty Tea Party extremists and hate others. We are working towards a better path and it includes everyone, not just those that agree with us.

      And realize that not everyone in those Red States are "foaming at the mouth", drank the koolaid types. There are a lot of good people back in my home town in West Virginia.  Many of the people I know agree with my posts about the problems with the GOP. It's just that they are hamstrung by the louder voices controlling the region. There are good people everywhere and we should try to keep that in mind.

      "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately." -- George Carlin, Satirical Comic,(1937-2008)

      by Wynter on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:27:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  OT but (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        417els, LilithGardener

        "We interrupt this program: Congressman Leo Ryan (D) and over  900 members of The Peoples Temple have died in Jonestown, Guyana."
        Where were you when Jonestown happened?  I was watching TV, and it was just as shocking as 9/11. This was Generation X 9/11.  To this day I think it was worse b/c one of our own did it.
         As the days went by, the images of 900 + people murdered trickled in, 1/3 of them children and babies.
        Another layer of horror: the poor condition of the bodies and the death stench from the tropical heat.

        Drink the Kool-Aide
         I'm trying to raise awareness of the Drinking the Kool-Aid term: It's linked to the Jonestown massacre, and contrary to popular belief, the folks there were not brainwashed and willing to kill themselves. The majority of them were forcibly injected with it, or had it forced down their throat.
        Armed guards ensured they couldn't escape, and the  members in Jonestown had been there against their will from the moment they arrived. Coupled with the thick jungle, escape was nearly impossible.
        Over 900 people were murdered, including babies, and children. Congressman Leo Ryan (D) was murdered that day when he went down their at the request of his constituents.

        November 18th is the 35 anniversary of Jonestown, and I hope people will remember the victims.  

        "Down with sodomy, up with teabagging!" Sign @ TeaBilly rally.

        by pitbullgirl65 on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 03:24:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The state that kept electing Robert Byrd? (3+ / 0-)

      In Wyoming, the only place where Democrats could be elected is the Wind River reservation or by the trust fund recipients in Jackson.

      But somebody kept sending Robert Byrd to Congress.

      "states like VT and ID are not 'real america'" -icemilkcoffee

      by Utahrd on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:57:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  they don't support coal because they love coal (7+ / 0-)

      but because their livelihoods depend on it.

      ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

      by James Allen on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 03:15:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  U.S. mine workers led labor movements (5+ / 0-)

      going all the way back to the 1870s.  It was only later that corporate agitprop moved in with all its guns-and-racism crap designed to hijack union solidarity and further dehumanize the miners.  

      Upton Sinclair wrote, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."  Actually, the miners understood things pretty well until the corporations decided to make a project of shoveling their brains out.  

    •  As a Wyomingite, I found your comment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LilithGardener, Calamity Jean

      extremely offensive. (the first paragraph, anyway) Yes, we do have some tea party types here :::Cynthia Lummis, I'm looking at you here::: but there are tea party types everywhere, unfortunately.  And good and decent people everywhere, as well.

      As James Allen pointed out upthread, people here don't support coal (or oil and gas, for that matter) because we love tearing up the earth, but because our livelihoods depend on it.  The economic health of the State of Wyoming depends heavily on the extractive industries.  I'd dearly love for my state's economy to diversify and get away from the extractive industries, but at least for the short term we're unequally yoked to energy sources laid down during the Permian Period.

      I know many good and decent people who work in the Powder River Basin coal mines and in the oil patch.  Yes, they have no love for Obama or for progressives, in large part because they see progressive policies as a threat to their very livelihoods.  These aren't the people who are going on the national stage and saying some extremely cruel and offensive things, however.  These are people who just want to put food on the table and a roof over their children's heads, and hopefully build a better future for Wyoming's children.

      •  wish I could buy into that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ssgbryan, unfangus

        but I don't.  This is the only state in the country where a new National Park can't be created without permission of the state.  It also has enough wind to power the entire country.  And I've seen too many trucks with confederate flags and outright hate bumper stickers.  No, it's a pretty red neck state.

        I live about an hour from Laramie by the way.

        •  Truman made a mistake when he exempted Wyoming (0+ / 0-)

          The Antiquities act should apply to every part of the Us, no exceptions.states don't like it too bad, its for the betterment of all. but lets clear one thing up. congress has to ok a national monument in Wyoming ,not Wyoming itself. frankly that part can be rescinded by a future congress and basically restore the president power to et aside monuments as he or she sees fit.

    •  WV voted Dem up to 1996. (0+ / 0-)

      When one party tries to shut down the livelihood of many of the citizens, it shouldn't surprise anyone when they jump ship to the only other game in town.

    •  Not true (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LilithGardener

      West Virginia is one of the few states that is completely run by Democrats.  The tea party obviously does not have very much influence there.

  •  I was reading a rant by a right winger on a blog (8+ / 0-)

    a year ago about "Obama" wanting to shut down the brand new power plant they had in his county. It was in West Virginia. For me that was really when the entire human dimension of shutting down coal struck home. Largest and just about only employer in the county.

    I still think we need to not use coal. I believe the mercury pollution as well as carbon footprint just make it such a dirty form of energy.

    I'm not worried about the votes. The ranter was an old retired LEO from the state, not very moderate is an understatement. He also volunteered at some kind of county wide assistance center to get people signed up for various programs. Regardless of politics these people are going to be in for a world of hurt. They need not be, I could imagine many alternative businesses to operate in a region of such natural beauty.

    Given that this congress doesn't want to fund SS or foodstamps I don't know how it will ever get done.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:20:10 PM PDT

  •  We stopped making buggy whips and survived. (6+ / 0-)

    If we invested even a modicum of the dollars we now send to carbon killing vulture corporations to sustainable energy ...we would have more jobs...and a small hope for continued life on earth.

    Dollarocracy is not Democracy

    by leema on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:23:48 PM PDT

  •  UMW pointedly refused to endorse Obama (4+ / 0-)

    last year.  The leader of the UMW bellowed that Obama was doing to the coal industry what he "did to bin Laden".  As if robber barron Mitt would have been an improvement.  So I have very little concern for these people.

    I would close every coal plant in the country.  We don't want them and we don't need them.

    •  Closing every coal plant in the country... (20+ / 0-)

      ...is the goal. Trashing the people who, in some cases for generations, have been captive of fossil fuel interests for livelihood while their environment has been being polluted and they've been impoverished, is mean-spirited and counterproductive to the overall goals of progressivism. There's a history to how things got to where we got. Don't ignore it out of petty vindictiveness.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:35:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Pretending that they're merely captives, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WillR, ssgbryan, unfangus

        without any agency, is not entirely lacking in pettiness either.

        "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

        by GussieFN on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 03:15:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, of course, we are all more than merely... (3+ / 0-)

          ...captives of the fossil fuel industry. We like the goodies coal via the modern economy has brought us very much. As a society we are resistant to having less of it even if it means another meter of sea level, another thousands species obliterated. But coal workers haven't ever exactly been treated like Top Guns, salary- or respectwise. And their communities have been wrecked. Only the strongest stood up against the coal companies and, with unions, won gains that have helped everyone on the job. Over time ways were found to weaken the coal unions. The weak go places the strong don't have to. Thus we have the UMW taking wrong stands. And politicians who pretend that safety is their biggest concern. That's their agency.

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 03:32:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  can we point to various successes? (5+ / 0-)

        the loggers were opposed to ecological activists until they
        found that there were better more sustainable jobs
        doing sustainable forestry, and eco-tourism then
        just clear cutting.

        what transition industries have come in to mining regions?

      •  The dark side of coal mining culture (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        unfangus

        is far right cultural conservatism.  Coal miners, like many family farmers, and some blue collar workers had a real pride in their profession and their cultural heritage, which resulted in a deep insularity.   Most of them were evangelical Christians or conservative Catholics, who were sexist and homophobic.  Many of them are racist too.

        They didn't want just a decent paycheck, but they wanted to perpetuate that lifestyle for their kids.  The dream life for many of coal miners was that their sons become coal miners in their same area and that their daughters to marry one.  It was the same ideal that the coal miners in the UK went on strike for in the 1980s.

        I don't want the sons and daughters of coal miners to be coal miners and Christian fundamentalists.  I want them to get out of those coal areas, go to college, expand their horizons, and not be so backward in cultural issues.  And closing the mines will accelerate this process.  

    •  So you'll let big biz divide & rule us? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger, 417els, LilithGardener

      Hell no.

      Coal miners used to be reliable Democrats. If we show them some compassion when they're looking for new jobs or a decent retirement they will return to the fold.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 03:12:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think that is the fundamental reason (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ssgbryan

        why coal miners voted R in the last two Presidential elections.  And I even don't think the "War on Coal" was the main reason either.  
        I believe that the real reason why many coal miners voted R in 2008 and 2012 was the color of the skin and the cultural upbringing of the Democratic nominee was so different than theirs.  

        And I can't ever respect that.  Sorry.

  •  Thanks for discussing key issue of just transition (5+ / 0-)

    Years ago, VP Al Gore, and others, over the years, have suggested a "GI bill of rights" approach for miners, and, as you point out, related workers. Some MTR communities are working with private organizations to provide a just transition. I like that you mention how different communities need different things.

    Will you in the future write up a just transitions draft policy like you did before for energy? i know, in your spare time. :) but maybe then we could promote your draft to DC?

  •  it's a war on coal workers by definition (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    patbahn, Neo Control

    "Your job is wrong and we won't let you do it anymore."

    Retrain these guys to mine something else, like rare earths so we don't have to buy them all from China.

    Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

    by Visceral on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:32:25 PM PDT

  •  This is an important and (4+ / 0-)

    missing part of the "main stream" dialogue in the environmental movement. To convert from a hydrocarbon economy to something else is going to be exceedingly difficult all by itself and painful for those whose livelihood depend on it.  Just like the tobacco settlement sought to compensate farmers we need to have a more meaningful conversation of what the real costs are to move completely off hydrocarbons.

    Personally I am all for quitting coal, oil, and natural gas, but we can't just say it without really considering the costs of retooling the workforce. I'm afraid though, that those same people that would benefit from a transition program so we can move away from coal, et al., would be fearful of a "big gov't" program telling them what to do.

    It's a tough nut but we have to crack it.

    Good diary.

    John Robinette http://www.hole-in-the-sun.com Follow me on twitter @hole_in_the_sun

    by JayRo on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:35:27 PM PDT

  •  Jobs: Renewables and Energy Efficiency (5+ / 0-)

    Many good paying, lasting and safe jobs are created through the local manufacturing and installing of utility-scale wind and solar projects.  Roof-top solar and energy conservation programs also create high paying, lasting jobs.

    Fossil-fuel generating plants are becoming more automated, thereby diminishing long term jobs, and mining is indefensible in terms of pay, benefits and safety.  Fossil fuel generation is dead in terms of a sustainable resource and job source.

    We are justly transitioning.

    Dogs have so many friends because they wag their tails instead of their tongues. -Anonymous

    by gloryous1 on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:36:05 PM PDT

    •  That's not quite entirely true...yet... (5+ / 0-)

      This past Thursday, as part of a local leadership development program I'm participating in, my fellow participants and I toured a coal-fired power plant and a wind farm, both about 25 miles from here, and both owned by MidAmerican Energy, whose PacifiCorp subsidiary is the public utility that serves my area.

      There are about 190 employees at Dave Johnston (the power plant), in various positions - engineers, control room operators, clerical, warehouse, etc.  Dave Johnston generates over 800 Mw/day.  

      There are maybe a couple dozen employees at the Glenrock I, II, and III wind farm, managing about 160 turbines.  This project has a generating capacity of about 237 Mw.  

      Theoretically, if the Glenrock wind farm expanded both generating capacity and staff in the same proportions, it would require about 80-90 people to generate the same amount of electricity as Dave Johnson with its 190 employees.  What happens to the 100-110 extra workers?

      Point being, although renewable energy does create jobs, we would have to create them at a 1:1 ratio wrt hydrocarbon-based jobs.  And I'm not sure that we're there yet.  

  •  Redevelopment is key to winning those families (5+ / 0-)

    ...over to our side. We need to be as mindful about displaced energy workers as we are about displaced factory workers.

    This is going to be a tough, long, expensive and often irrational fight. Sadly not ever one responds well to environmental threats they perceive may not be as urgent as they are claim to be.

    The politicians may be bought, and the system corrupt, but it is our duty to fix these things.

    by sebastianguy99 on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:40:16 PM PDT

  •  To be precise (6+ / 0-)

    We are talking about ultimately losing about 80,000 coal mining jobs.  

    That's about $5 billion a year in wages.  We need to make that much money available annually to pay folks while they retrain, move to find other jobs, or to supplement their early retirement.

    “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    by 6412093 on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:45:10 PM PDT

    •  Those thousands are augmented by... (6+ / 0-)

      ...workers who lose out in communities where coal is the dominant force and by coal-fired power plants as well.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:49:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, "we" don't (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      6412093, WillR

      "We" need to pay folks to retrain, move, or retire? Since when? And why would we do that just for coal miners and not every other laid off person in the U.S.?

      •  I am hoping that (5+ / 0-)

        support payments for the laid-off miners will also support the community around them, to a degree.

        Since when do we pay folks to retrain, move and retire?  

        We've been doing it for a long time (since Clinton?) for folks that lose jobs due to "free trade."

        We probably give more than $5 billion a year in cash, grants, below-cost coal, and loan guarantees to the coal companies, I'd rather see that $$$ go to the workers.

        When government energy policy wipes out an industry,  I think we have some obligation to the folks whose jobs got wiped out.

        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

        by 6412093 on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 03:14:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's basic social decency (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LilithGardener, Calamity Jean

        to give people help.  But in this case, the problem is structural.  If you fire a few people in an otherwise healthy market, then they can be reabsorbed in various directions.  But if you fire an entire town, then the entire economy of that region turns to zombie-land rubble.  

        Like it or not, all economies are "managed" -- the question is whether they are managed in good or bad ways.  Mine workers have been managed in horrifically toxic ways, even though our lives have benefitted considerably from their work.  I don't think it is wrong to target an entire industry or labor force for repurposing.

      •  Which is why I wrote in the diary: (5+ / 0-)
        A Just Transition for all displaced workers could be infused in a new economy. Not merely technologically new. That is happening anyway. And certainly not just one that expands the economy we already have. Such a conventional expansion would also expand the inequality in wealth and income as well as environmental wreckage that the current economy has already given us.
        Not just coal miners.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 05:30:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd love to read a whole diary expanded from (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          unfangus

          just this section on the Just Transition Coalition for the Mohave Generating Plant. It sounds like a successful local negotiation (even if delayed and forced by litigation), and a "case study" we should learn from to figure out what featured helped to force reclaiming the credits.

          In fact, a Just Transition Coalition was created especially to press forward a deal between the Hopi and Navajo Indian tribes with Southern California Edison to support the growth of renewable energy on their reservations in the wake of the closing of the coal-burning Mohave Generating Plant in 2005. An ad hoc coalition also negotiated with Gov. Chris Gregoire in mutually agreed speeded-up shutdown of the Trans-Alta coal-fired power plant in Centralia, Washington.

          The Mohave deal was particularly controversial, which is one reason it took so long to come to fruition.
          After the Mohave plant closed eight years ago, Southern California Edison, which owned 56 percent of the operation, accumulated Clean Air Act sulfur pollution credits that it no longer needed under the Acid Rain Cap and Trade program. These it sold to coal-plant operators in other parts of the country. Advocates for the Hopi and Navajo argued before the California Public Utilities Commission that during its 34-year-life the plant had not only polluted the area but also sucked up vast amounts of fossil water to run a coal slurry from the Black Mesa mine to the generating station. Given that history, CPUC ruled in February this year that revenues from the sale of the credits would go into a revolving fund to provide start-up money for renewable energy projects that benefit the two tribes.

          "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

          by LilithGardener on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 09:41:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I absolutely believe it's doable (0+ / 0-)

          I don't even-S think there's a lot of magic to it.
          Lots of hard work? Yup.
          Reaching out to lots of different people with lots of different interests? Yup.

          As you point out, it's not going to happen simply because we want it to, or because we wave a magic green wand and  hant "A-la-sus-tain'.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 04:15:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  but a 50 billion investment in wind power (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      and solar power will create lots more jobs and in those areas.

      we need the investment to happen though.

      •  patbahn, that would be (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Meteor Blades

        true if it happened.

        I wish I could think of at least one example where a coal mine or power plant shutdown was accompanied by a multi-billion "green energy" investment of some kind, right in the affected community.

        Manufacture of parts, and construction of wind and solar power plants does provide good jobs, but operation of wind and solar plants doesn't require very many workers, often just a handful.

        Big increases in wind plant parts manufacturing in Iowa roughly accompanied Coal plant shut downs in Iowa, but that was more coincidental than deliberate, and not contemporaneous.

        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

        by 6412093 on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 03:32:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  "But what will happen to the workers at Brayton ?" (0+ / 0-)

    Agreed , right after our 2014 congress passes Slave Reparations , 40 acres and a GM Pickup

    Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers

    by Patango on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 02:50:44 PM PDT

  •  jobs are always the excuse (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy, pitbullgirl65

    to continue destructive practices.

  •  An impossible task to do fairly (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pitbullgirl65, WillR, gonnabechef

    Compensating individuals for damage they suffered because of policy changes is an impossible task to do fairly, and should not even be attempted.

    This is the same approach that gets us into compensating people who are in a big disaster, like 9/11 or the Minnesota bridge collapse, and ignoring those who suffer from disasters that unfold continuously and harm many more people.

    How can you say the some folks deserve compensation when change goes against them and some do not?

    If we implement gun control, do we have to buy off and retrain all the gun dealers?     What about parking lot attendants?  Should the federal government pay them off because most parking lots take credit cards?

    This kind of thinking leads to creating lots of subgroups fighting over what the rest of the people owe them.   Life is change.    We ALL must change to survive.    

    •  Equality of opportunity (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      6412093

      We want to provide opportunity to all - if it starts with workers displaced in favor of the environment - I have no objection.

      It is unfair to do nothing for anybody because we cannot do everything for everybody.

      •  Yes to opportunity for all (0+ / 0-)

        If you want opportunity for all, which I do, you start by providing assistance that actually can be available to all.

        You don't start by carving out the deserving and leaving out the rest.

      •  Why focus... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bobtmn

        ...on coal though? If job retraining and/or relocation assistance is appropriate for workers in coal, why not for every other worker, regardless of industry, who lost their jobs through no fault of their own as a result of progress?

        It's unrealistic to believe that the areas where coal happened to be are ideal for other industries (I'm sure some are, in which case one would expect those areas may already have such industries).

        Some of the areas that host "coal towns" have low education levels. Most modern industries require a healthy dose of well educated workers. If there are too few such potential workers in an area, it's just not an attractive place for modern industry to settle. The education problem takes decades to "fix", long beyond the timeframe of those currently affected by reduction in use of coal.

        Relocation is really the most realistic long term answer for workers in many of these towns. Yes, many of these communities will die -- just as many communities relying on a high labor content in agriculture died as mechanization reduced the number of workers need to toil in the fields. But that's just the nature of progress and it's better to get the next generation raised in areas with a need for workers and with strong educational systems.

    •  That's why I wrote that the best national... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      6412093, dinotrac

      ...policy is one that provides a Just Transition for job losers of all sorts instead of saying, hey, change happens, get over it.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 05:40:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Something like 90% of the coal jobs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, 6412093

    are already gone; what's been done for all those people?

    Maybe that can serve as a template for those still hanging on.

  •  this makes too much sense (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pitbullgirl65, Meteor Blades, 417els

    Recall in 2000 Al Gore campaigned for the transition to a green economy?

    That was 13 years ago.

    Even way back then it was already late in the game.

    But, if we had gone all out, we could have developed new technology, created jobs and been a moral leader in the world.

    The environment is a moral issue.

    It looks like we will be forced back to common sense.

    Or else we will be proud of being stupid and continue the present course.

  •  VOCA (0+ / 0-)

    A Vote of Confidence Amendment (VOCA) will give American voters the power to fire the people they elect.

    FREE AMERICA

    VOCA, NOW!

  •  "must not", but it will be (0+ / 0-)

    When has capitalism ever given a thought to workers' needs?

    If and when we do transition to a green economy, it will exploit workers in much the same way as fossil fuel extraction did.

  •  Although I do feel some sympathy for them, I can't (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssgbryan

    let that sympathy lie in the way of the transition that MUST happen.  They have had ample time to get used to the change that simply must occurred for the rest of us.  If they have done nothing but fight the change, and have voted against us at every turn, and do everything in their power to promote this unhealthy and Earth destroying method of energy....at some point the rest of us have to just say "oh well" and move on.

    They don't vote for us, we know this, so it won't matter a bit at the ballot box.  They are but a few and yet, their handiwork can effect millions.....it simply must stop.  We can offer help, sure, but it must not be a choice but rather a demand.  

  •  Thank you for writing this. Job displacement (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093, shaktidurga

    for any other reason is looked upon as "unavoidable". Only when the environment or govt policy is concerned do people sharpen their pitchforks. Honestly, what can we do? These workers don't deserve to be shut out of the economy, but which industries are going to jump into to offer employment?What incentives could be offered?

    Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

    by the fan man on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 04:33:15 PM PDT

  •  other transferable mining is needed (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, 6412093, Calamity Jean
    What is ‘Noncoal’?

    ‘Noncoal’ is any mined commodity that isn’t coal or peat. The Noncoal Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act coined this label for the alternative to the coal program in Pennsylvania. These minerals are also referred to as “nonfuel minerals” or “industrial minerals”.

    The most common noncoal mines in Pennsylvania produce “aggregate” (hard granular material used in concrete, mortar, plaster, blacktop). The types of rock used for these purposes are limestone/ dolomite, sandstone and argillite. Mineral deposits (that are not consolidated rock) of sand and gravel are also used.

    Rock is also crushed into specific sizes to produce “crushed stone” for road base and fill material. Shale can be extracted fairly easily, without crushing, for similar purposes.

    Other noncoal mines produce specialty mineral products such as bluestone, diabase, serpentinite, refractory sand and more.

    Noncoal in Pennsylvania

    Pennsylvania has abundant natural resources, including fuels (coal, gas, oil) and a large variety of minerals. Surface mining of noncoal/industrial minerals is a major industry. Pennsylvania is one of the top 10 producing states in the country for aggregate/crushed stone. The value of Noncoal mineral production in PA is around one billion dollars per year.

    We get many benefits from quarries. Mineral products are essential for the following:

    Building roads, foundations and transportation structures with cement, concrete, blacktop (asphalt), and crushed stone.
    Construction of houses and buildings (concrete, sand, crushed stone for foundations and utilities; mineral components are contained in tile, brick, wallboard, paint and many other household materials)
    Industry use (as abrasives, binders, additives, in water and air treatment systems)
    Agriculture use (lime)
    Landscaping use of concrete, topsoil, crushed stone, cut stone (dimension stone, flagstone, bluestone, slate), boulders, bricks (shale and clay), sand, and lime.
    Roofing materials (rock granules, slate)

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 04:35:20 PM PDT

  •  the 240 workers can live under a bridge... (0+ / 0-)

    But what will happen to the 240 workers at Brayton Point?

    They can go the same refugee camps that have been set up for the millions of displaced american workers....under bridges and along rivers & RR tracks.

    Or go Solar.

    Nuclear Reactor = Dirty Bomb

    by olo on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 05:57:00 PM PDT

  •  See, here I see an issue... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Whatithink, 6412093, shaktidurga
    Please don't remind me that the current make-up of Congress makes passing any worthwhile policy out of the question. I've heard about that.
    You acknowledge that passing these policies (which I agree are absolutely necessary,) is impossible.

    And I agree with you completely.

    So that leaves us with the very thing you are warning against: A entire generation of blue collar workers, and their children, who remember Democrats as the reason they subsisted upon foodstamps.

    Moving away from coal is absolutely necessary... but as a (recently) former West Virginia resident, I really, really, really, really wish the transition you advocate for had been set up before the government declared war on coal.

    Because there are going to be tens and tens of thousands of families who are going to be destroyed by this transition. Destroyed. And, when they point fingers in bitterness and anger, the fingers will be pointed at us.

    And frankly, I won't be able to disagree with them.  

    •  It's not too late. As I ALSO said, it's... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mgleaf

      ...important to say what we WILL do when we do hold Congress. Because saying what we will do helps persuade people we are worth putting into office.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 07:09:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What did people do there before coal mining? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW

      Could they go back to doing whatever their ancestors did in the region?  Farming, logging?  

      New stuff, like wind farms on the ridgetops would help.  

      It's beautiful country; tourism?

      Pay old coal miners to not mine; give them a pension and let them find whatever they wanted to occupy their time and make some extra money.  West Virginians aren't stupid.  Given some financial support and time to think about it, some of the people who know the area best should be able to come up with things they could do.

      "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

      by Calamity Jean on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 02:27:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What will they do about workers? (0+ / 0-)

    The same thing they did when the steel, glass, and textile industries died-send them to Wal-mart to work for low wages and let the government subsidize their health care and food.

  •  We need to keep an eye out for one thing (0+ / 0-)

    as coal becomes cheeper as demand falls, there has been some interest in using it as a carbon base for chemical plants. This is in some very early stage work, but I wouldn't bet against it eventually bearing fruit (in much the same way shale oil took off).

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)! Follow on Twitter @dopper0189

    by dopper0189 on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 07:43:14 PM PDT

  •  Documentary on a coal town that looked to prisons (0+ / 0-)

  •  It's hard to get big green groups focused on this. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093

    Great diary. Very important.

    I went to many Beyond Coal/Sierra Club planning meetings and conferences where this exact topic came up. Grassroots activists were always very clear about the need to advocate for new energy jobs while working to shut down coal projects. In particular, it's a problem that, for a variety of reasons, most green jobs are created outside coal country. The new energy jobs aren't available where coal miners and power plant workers are getting laid off.

    Although everyone at these meetings would always agree, I never saw that approach implemented. It doesn't fit on the metric charts used for major donor reports of how many people were contacted and how many online petitions were signed to shut down a coal plant. Green Corps and the big greens have their top-down model and this doesn't fit.
    The grassroots will have to start a campaign for a bailout of coal country. Maybe the big box greens will figure it out and join in eventually.

  •  The GOP is blocking jobs for everyone (0+ / 0-)

    The coal workers are not the only ones who need jobs. And I agree - we should have a program that no person is without a job.  Talk to the GOP about that.

    BUT

    Methinks I smell corporate PR here.

    "Jobs" seems to be corporate-speak for let us get away with polluting and ruining the earth.

  •  Where I disagree is...somepace else. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades

    Good article, MB.
    Fine article.
    Loved the Brecher quote and the linked article.

    At some point, of course, I, as a conservative, would have differences over how to achieve the goals...but..how exciting would that be?

    Arguments over how best to preserve the health of the planet while making people's lives better?

    No matter how low today's politics may sink, I refuse to surrender hope that such a day is possible.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 03:50:56 AM PDT

  •  good and bad (0+ / 0-)

      I'm guessing I missed these, but just in case:

        Solar in Casa Grande, AZ is going great!  http://phys.org/...

         And then Georgia   :-(   http://www.wsbtv.com/...

          I haven't kept up with the day to day, but isn't this plant way behind schedule?   http://www.wsbtv.com/...

  •  Fracking shuts down coal (0+ / 0-)

    The demise of coal is mostly a free-market result because of the availability of natural gas through fracking. Environmentalists got some restrictions on pollutants passed, but this was hardly critical - the point is that liberals and environmentalists are far from controlling the transition. The same "free-market" conservatives that opposed any environmental regulations will oppose any assistance to displaced miners; they certainly won't get any help from coal-mine owners, who are known as some of the hardest-hearted employers.

    The unemployed miners and those in the affected regions will be hurting their own cause by supporting Republicans as long as they blame environmental regulations for the shutdowns. For environmentalists to crow about "success" in shutting down coal is counter-productive - the real cause needs to be clearly identified.

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