Here is an important piece from a community organizer in Pike County, Kentucky — a woman by the name of Mikaela Curry — on the coal miners’ “friend” Senator Mitch McConnell. This is from someone who lives in Trumplandia, and I think her views are far more important than any of the usual blather I write.
Within walking distance from my house in Pike County, Kentucky, a large sign on a barn declares, “Got Electricity? Thank a Miner.” Trademarked as “America’s Energy Capital,” Pike County is the easternmost county in Kentucky, nestled into the ridged edges of West Virginia and Virginia. There is evidence of the legacy of mining almost everywhere you look.
She describes the locals she lives among as generous and kind. And I know they can be. I broke down once in WV, and the guy who fixed my car let me sleep in his home because it was late at night. I was young, and the timing belt went out on my car.
Anyway, her is what she says about McConnell’s efforts with coal miners:
McConnell has repeatedly failed to do right by our coal workers and communities. In 2017, McConnell co-authored a high-profile op-ed claiming to support projects that would “provide financial, environmental and economic support to hard-hit coal regions.” However, in a stark contrast to this claim, last year (and the year before that, and the year before that) he failed to win, or even fight for, federal funding for the RECLAIM Act, the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, and miners’ pension fund. All three of these measures are urgently needed to support a Just Transition for workers and communities in Kentucky.
The RECLAIM Act alone would have brought $1 billion back to coal mining regions in Central Appalachia. But, despite strong outcry from his constituents — including 16 local governments that passed local resolutions urging his support — McConnell did not push for a vote for these programs that would directly benefit his constituents. Despite his enormous influence in Congress, he did nothing. Much like the miners suffering from black lung, he allowed these measures to die without a voice.
The bold and italics are my doing. But can you imagine what Central Appalachia could do with that money for miners? I know it would help bring peace of mind to those suffering miners.
But McConnell is there to keep open that Paradise Fossil Plant that the TVA wants to shut down to save consumers $320 million dollars. And Curry points out that coal has been in decline since 1979, and as I and countless others have stated time and time again, “Where the hell was Mitch McConnell during all those years?”
Curry goes on to point out that McConnell opposes anything with moving the U.S. off of fossil fuels and the Green New Deal. But she asks of McConnell, “What IS your plan?”
One last item:
At some point in the last year, the sign on that barn near my house came down — not because the people of this community don’t still support miners, but perhaps because we are starting to see the light of a different day.
It did not happen during the midterms in KY, but maybe she is correct. She lives there, so I do not want to second guess Curry. I know as someone who lives in KY but not in coal country that I despair of any minds being changed with regards to Trump and McConnell. Lately, I have come to realize what desperation will make some do. Desperate people will grasp at anything to survive, even to the lies of an evil man like Mitch McConnell.
Fifty year old progressive who is a little grumpy after more than 30 years of conservative dominance of the political system. We need to hamstring conservatives and devour their entrails.