Ashton Marra Published

Tennant, Capito Focus on Coal at Chamber of Commerce Forum


The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce is focusing on energy, education and elections at their annual business summit in White Sulfur Springs this week, but the election component is taking a front seat as the Chamber hosts forums to allow candidates for Congressional offices to debate.

Scott Rotruck of the law firm Spillman Thomas and Battle served as moderator for the forum that had both Natalie Tennant and Shelley Moore Capito sitting on the same stage.

Their opening statements touched on similar topics. Both were focused on energy, specifically the coal industry and the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulations on coal fired power plants.

“In West Virginia, we know that jobs start with energy and we know that energy jobs start with coal,” Tennant said.

“I have fought to stop the President’s war on coal and it is a war on coal,” Capito told the crowd in a Greenbrier Resort ballroom.

Both spoke of creating jobs, of strengthening education and taking on the “politics as usual” in Washington.

Rotruck asked candidates to define how they would defend coal, diversify the economy and protect Medicare and Social Security should they win the Senate seat.

Both spoke of reforming tax codes and protecting West Virginia’s seniors, Capito said by restructuring their benefits and Tennant said by voting to keep those benefits out of the hands of the private sector.


Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Secretary of State Natalie Tennant looks on as her opponent, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, gives her opening remarks.

In an earlier session, Republican U.S. House hopeful Evan Jenkins was set to debate Democratic Congressman Nick Rahall, but the Congressman didn’t show.

In a press release, his staff said Rahall was meeting with members of the Coalfield Expressway Authority in Mullens Thursday. 

Jenkins said after the forum he was looking forward to debating the Congressman, but was still glad he had the opportunity to share his views with Chamber of Commerce members.

A third forum is set for Friday morning at The Greenbrier during the final day of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Business Summit. That forum will include Congressman David McKinley, Auditor Glen Gainer, Nick Casey and Alex Mooney, all running for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.