Campaign update: Miners warn Democrats on ending coal

Jennifer A. Dlouhy

The head of the largest U.S. miners union said Democratic presidential candidates participating in a climate change town hall Wednesday need to assure coal miners they won’t suffer any “negative effect” from ending the use of the fossil fuel.

Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, said coal miners are “tired of being cast as villains” and are deeply skeptical of campaign promises they will win well-paying jobs in other sectors as the mineral is phased out as a power source.

United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts speaks at the 30th Anniversary of the Pittston Strike Celebration.

The 10 Democrats at the CNN climate change forum “will be working hard to outdo each other as to how fast they would eliminate coal and coal miners’ jobs from our nation’s energy mix,” Roberts said. “But if they have any hope of winning the votes of those coal miners, families or communities, they had better also make it clear that none of those miners, families or communities will see any negative effect from losing their coal jobs.”

Climate change plans from the leading Democratic contenders would cut federal subsidies for coal producers, levy new fees on coal companies, pressure other countries to cut back on the fuel’s use and promote clean energy alternatives. Some of their plans also include help for workers affected by coal’s downturn by guaranteeing their health care and pensions or providing job retraining.

Roberts said miners are skeptical they will receive any help as Congress hasn’t fulfilled earlier promises to protect the pensions of workers at bankrupt mining companies. “We want our pensions saved; we want our health care plans saved. If you can’t do that and it’s been 10 years, how can we believe you will give us a just transition?” Roberts asked.

Biden supporters prefer Sanders to Warren

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders appeal to seemingly very different constituencies within the Democratic Party. But potential primary voters could swing between moderate and progressive if their first-choice candidate drops out of the race.

When asked who they would choose as a second option for the nomination, 27% of Biden supporters said they’d pick Sanders, and 30% of Sanders supporters said they’d back Biden, according to a survey by Morning Consult released Sept. 3.

Elizabeth Warren, who’s positioned herself between Sanders and Biden in the Democratic spectrum, trailed both as a second option, and would get 24% of Biden supporters and 27% of Sanders backers.

Among the top five candidates, only Pete Buttigieg’s supporters chose Warren as their second choice.

The survey, based on 16,736 interviews between Aug. 26 and Sept. 1, also showed Biden, Sanders and Warren leading the Democratic primary race with 32%, 20% and 16%, respectively. Kamala Harris was at 8% and Buttigieg at 5%. – Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou

Harris sets $10 trillion climate change plan

Kamala Harris has unveiled a $10 trillion private-public plan to tackle climate change by creating a fully clean-energy economy by 2045.

Harris announced the ambitious target hours before a climate change town hall for Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday on CNN.

The California senator says she would rely on her experience as a prosecutor to hold polluters accountable. Her “Climate Plan For the People” would also “end federal support for the fossil fuel industry through both executive action and legislation, putting a fee on pollution, and increasing penalties and forcing companies to prove they are not polluting.”

In addition, she would pursue justice for communities most affected by climate change, protect national resources and re-enter the Paris climate accord.

Harris called for 100% of American electricity to be carbon-neutral by 2030, phasing out fossil fuels in the transportation sector, and a swath of new investments designed to build out the clean energy economy. – Sahil Kapur