Associated Press Published

Legislative Leaders Say Coal Rhetoric Not Helping

Coal Stock Pile

  West Virginia’s top legislative leaders don’t think clamoring over coal this election helps Appalachia’s already-sputtering industry.

A U.S. Senate race and two competitive House contests have hammered on fear of federal regulation further stifling coal.

Republicans lump Democrats in with President Obama, an ever-unpopular figure in West Virginia. Democrats zig-zag to show they don’t support his energy policies.

State House Speaker Tim Miley and Senate President Jeff Kessler say the dialogue is oversimplified.

The Democratic leaders point out other factors: cheap natural gas, thin coal seams, lousy markets and national and global competition.

Kessler and Miley are also from northern West Virginia, where natural gas production has boomed.

Some of West Virginia’s longest-tenured Democratic politicians, the late Sen. Robert Byrd and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, similarly criticized coal rhetoric.