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Trump touts coal, Morrisey ahead of Charleston rally

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — When President Donald Trump last visited Charleston, it was as a candidate for the office he now holds.

It was May 6, four days before the primary election. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich dropped out of the race days before, making Trump the presumptive GOP nominee. Around 12,000 people attended a campaign rally held at the Charleston Civic Center, in which Trump touted his goal of revitalizing the coal industry.

“You will look back and you will say it was the single greatest vote you ever cast. America will be great again. We’ll be America first. We’ll start winning, winning, winning, and you are going to be very proud,” he said. “And for those miners, get ready because you’re going to be working your asses off.”

Trump will return to Charleston Tuesday for his sixth visit to West Virginia since taking office and his first to Charleston since that rally.

The night before the visit, Trump tweeted a couple of times about the two most likely topics of the rally — a new proposal to regulate coal plant emissions and the U.S. Senate candidacy of West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

The president is expected to go into detail about the new policy aimed at rolling back regulations on carbon dioxide emissions as well as talk about this year’s U.S Senate contest.

The New York Times reported Saturday the administration will next propose to further relax the Clean Power Plan, allowing states to decide whether and how to reduce emissions from coal plants. The Environmental Protection Agency will hold a press briefing Tuesday morning on the proposal, the Affordable Clean Energy rule.

“That would be good,” West Virginia Coal Association president Bill Raney told MetroNews Monday. “Gets us on another track here that, hopefully, will establish some reasonable compliance means.”

The Trump administration has already taken steps to rescind environmental policies of the Obama presidency; Trump withdrew the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, an effort to limit global temperature increase, in June 2017. Then-EPA administrator Scott Pruitt signed a notice in October proposing repealing the Clean Power Plan, which is aimed at reducing carbon emissions. In June, Trump ordered the Department of Energy in June to take steps to prevent the retirement of coal and nuclear power facilities.

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition Vice Director Vivian Stockman said with the tremendous evidence supporting society’s impact on global climate, the Trump administration’s policies are misguided.

“We’ve got a history of politicians continually put the interest of coal corporations above the health and safety of our people, be the coal miners or anyone else,” she said. “For the sake of humanity’s future, we have to reduce greenhouse gases. We can’t trust West Virginia politicians to do that.”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey led the effort in 2015 to prevent the Clean Power Plan from going into place.

“From the very beginning, I said the Obama Power Plan was blatant and unlawful federal overreach,” he said in October. “I was humbled to have led the state-based coalition that defeated the Power Plan in court through an unprecedented stay at the Supreme Court and am excited that the Trump Administration is taking the final step to kill this terrible, job-killing regulation.”

West Virginia University’s College of Business and Economics said in a report released last week coal output has increased by 27 percent from mid-2016 to mid-2018, with export demand accounting for much of the increase in production.

While the coal industry has gained in the short term, the future is not as positive; the College of Business and Economics said in the same report the overall state output of coal is expected to decline 3 percent annually in 2019 and 2020, with output expected to fall by more than 12 million short tons in the next decade.

“Domestic shipments of thermal coal are expected to wane over the next decade as aging coal-fired generation capacity deals with rising maintenance costs and lack of competitiveness against natural gas, and in some markets, renewables,” the report stated.

Trump will also take time tomorrow pushing for Morrisey, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. Morrisey is running against Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who is seeking his second full term in office.

Despite previously being considered for cabinet positions, Trump has been critical of Manchin for not supporting last year’s tax overhaul legislation.

Manchin told MetroNews in June he does not mind if the president stops in West Virginia.

“The president’s always welcome to West Virginia. We’ve always been welcome to any president and every president that wanted to come,” he said.

“I want to work with my president when it’s good for West Virginia, and I’ll stand up to him when it’s wrong,” Manchin added.

Morning Consult reports Manchin’s approval rating at 45 percent with a disapproval rating of 43 percent. Trump, on the other hand, has a 63 percent approval rating, tied for Wyoming with the highest rating in the country.

While pollsters rate the contest as close, Manchin has led Morrisey in all but one poll released since the May primary election. The single outlier was released the same week as the election.

Tuesday’s rally is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

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