Both sides in the election campaign made impossible promises about economic growth based on unconscionable pledges to develop energy sources: drill, baby, drill; go nuclear; frac that shale; build that pipeline and, above all, remove those mountaintops and strip that coal. At least the president consistently included alternative energy sources in the mix, for which the Republicans consistently ridiculed him. Amid all the talk of moving forward, we got paeans to coal, the engine of the 19th century. In the midst of one of history’s most destructive storms, we heard nothing about global warming. We must change the conversation about growth and energy, and only the Democrats seem willing to do it. And no matter how shrill our environmentalist warnings, they will not reach the hearts of those struggling just to get by.
So instead of going after the bad guys in the GOP who won’t listen, why not begin with the Democratic senators from coal states? There are a lot of them, and they tend as a group to be more “moderate” than their caucus. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania is pro-life; West Virginia’s Joe Mancin refused to attend his party’s convention; Jon Tester just scraped through a close election in Montana. And Jay Rockefeller need not rely on coal companies for money. While their constituents depend on coal jobs, they are also the front-line victims of the environmental contamination that accompanies production. And they are increasingly organizing on behalf of their families’ health and quality of life.
Their leaders need to get ahead of them on this issue. In 2012, the only Cole that should be King is Nat.