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How Bo Copley Can Bring Jobs Back to West Virginia

Jeff Siegel

Written By Jeff Siegel

Posted March 31, 2017

Bo Copley rose to popularity last year after meeting Hillary Clinton during one of her campaign stops.

The hard-working coal miner from West Virginia confronted Clinton regarding her comments about putting coal miners out of jobs. I would argue that Clinton’s comments were some of the dumbest she made while running for office. And there were plenty.

As reported by ABC News, Copley pushed a photo of his three children across the table as he emotionally explained to Clinton that his job was gone and that he – like many in the coal industry whose livelihoods have been threatened by layoffs — worried about the future of his family.

After reading that, I genuinely felt for Copley. But I also genuinely feel for a lot of folks who’s children are negatively effected by the coal industry. There is a very real connection between coal (through mining, preparation, combustion, waste storage, and transport) and things like chronic bronchitis, asthma, and nervous system damage.

What about those kids? They should suffer because coal miners need work?

I don’t mean to sound unfeeling, but this is an honest question.

Of course, it doesn’t need to be an either / or situation. Truth is, since he’s already being used as a pawn for Republicans, anyway, Copley should use his influence to get his representatives to stop beating a dead horse.

Don’t be an out-of-work Trump loyalist

The other day, Bo Copley told reporters that he he thinks President Trump’s executive order rolling back environmental protections are “a good start” for following through on his election promise of putting coal miners back to work.

A good start to what?

Coal isn’t coming back. And there’s nothing Trump can do to save it. Even allowing coal producers to treat the planet like their own personal toilets will not be enough to keep coal-fired power from going violently into that good night.

As reported in Yahoo News, Copley said he understood that his industry’s actions leave a footprint and that efforts should be taken to minimize the impact.

“The Obama administration’s push for clean and sustainable energy resources — like wind and solar power — left many in coal country feeling unfairly targeted. We just felt like to come in and completely try to stomp out coal made us feel like we were completely targeted instead of trying to let these other energies become more viable, actually more competitive.”

But “those energies” have become more viable and more competitive. This is why coal is dying.

And while I get that he felt the coal industry was unfairly targeted, couldn’t the same be said for solar and wind while other presidents were in office?

Copley also said he knows that coal has a limited future but that he thinks it can be extended. He argued that coal country should utilize this natural resource while it lasts and develop other economic opportunities in the meantime so future generations have more options.

First of all, why utilize a resource that’s inferior to the combination of natural gas, renewables and energy storage? That’s like saying we should’ve done something to ensure typewriter manufacturers could continue to build machines that are no longer relevant because they need the jobs.

Copley says we should also develop other economic opportunities in the meantime so future generations have more options. He’s right. And the best way to do that is to stop clinging to the past and focus on the future.

If he’s concerned about future generations having more options, he should help facilitate the creation of those options – which do exist. If lawmakers in West Virginia had any sense, they would stop trying to placate the coal industry and start working with the industries that can thrive in the Mountain State, like wind energy and hemp farming. What great opportunities to breathe life back into dying coal towns!

The bottom line is that Bo Copley is acting as a shill for an industry that should really just be left to die a peaceful and honorable death.

The advent of coal-fired power was absolutely instrumental in providing many of the luxuries and necessities we take for granted today. That legacy can never be taken away. But there are simply better options than coal these days. Options that will actually help revitalize local economies while making the air and water cleaner and safer for future generations. It’s a win-win, if only guys like Copley would stop getting suckered by Trump loyalists.

Instead of showing pictures of his kids to sleazy politicians, Copley would accomplish a lot more for those kids if he used his fame and influence to help revitalize West Virginia’s economy with efforts to bring new, vital industries to town instead of backing the one that’s on life support.

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