Home Virginia Politics Webb Turns Back on Appalachia, Cozies Up to Big Coal

Webb Turns Back on Appalachia, Cozies Up to Big Coal


To understand Jim Webb’s shocking flip on the coal industry, you have to understand where he began. Here’s what he wrote in his book, Born Fighting, just six years ago:

The ever hungry industrialists had discovered that West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southwest Virginia sat atop one huge vein of coal. And so the rape began. The people from the outside showed up with complicated contracts that the small-scale cattle raisers and tobacco farmers could not fully understand, asking for “rights” to mineral deposits they could not see, and soon they were treated to a sundering of their own earth as the mining companies ripped apart their way of life, so that after a time the only option was to go down into the hole and bring the Man his coal, or starve. The Man got his coal, and the profits it brought when he shipped it out. They got their wages, black lung, and the desecration of their land.

Now Jim Webb is standing before those very same industrialists & pledging to do their bidding. This video from a recent Virginia Chamber of Commerce event shows Webb promising to fight any effort to rein in coal’s destructive, polluting, poverty-sustaining excesses. Webb’s pandering to corporate polluters stands in contrast to Sen. Mark Warner’s appearance at the same event making the case for energy reform.

Who else is Webb fighting for these days? The ultra-rich, pledging to protect them from having to do their fair share to reduce America’s deficit.

Speculation so far has centered on whether Jim Webb wants a 2nd term in the Senate. But I’m hearing more & more Virginia Democrats question whether we should want six more years of Jim Webb.

  • Jim Webb Dem

    Your speculation is Bull$71t.  We’d be lucky as hell if he ran again .. not a certainty… but vitally necessary to get true reform of the judicial system. And secondly Jim Webb panders to no one … because he’s his own man …. and doesn’t really worry about getting on somebody’s “good side”.

    He said nothing in the video clip provided that was radical or unreasonable so where’s the beef? Something you just ginned up?

    Maybe you should let us know who would be a better candidate …someone more to your litmus test liking… to run for senate green miles. I’d like to know who that would be? Harris Miller or George Allen.

    Your whole post is way over the top … cow drops.

  • Catzmaw

    When I read your diary I thought “Man, Jim Webb’s turned on the environment and come out in favor of strip-mining?”  THEN I listened to the clip.  Not even close.  In fact, you laud Mark Warner’s appearance making the case for energy reform, but ignore Webb’s statement that he believes “in alternative energy …”  He also says FAR more about the potential of nuclear energy, whereas he only touches very lightly on the question of the EPA’s authority.  I mean, you might disagree with him about the whether there’s any such thing as “clean coal”, but it’s not like he’s standing alone in believing that we still have to rely upon it.  It’s the only thing we have in abundance which we don’t have to go overseas to get and it is still an integral part of our economy whether we like it or not.  

    You should look at the context, too.  He’s talking to the frickin’ Chamber of Commerce.  He’s not going to tell them he wants to stop all coal production now, is he?  He’s trying to reach out to them to talk about potential for meeting ground between their economic interests and avenues of prosperity for all of Virginia, including her workers.

    I heard nothing in that clip which would cause me to reject working for Jim Webb’s re-election.  All I know is that George Allen has been cozying up to the tea party and he’s obviously positioning himself for a move on the Senate.  Either that or McDonnell or some other troglodyte is going to run, and NONE of them gives a damn about the environment OR the people who work in the coal country.  

    And it’s not just the environment we have to worry about.  Right now Jim Webb is the ONLY Senator focusing on the incarceration crisis in this country and urging a new approach which could provide relief to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of primarily minority inmates stuck in our draconian system of justice.  Forty years of “zero tolerance” and “throwing away the key” has resulted in a waste of human potential of catastrophic proportions and Jim Webb has been a lone voice crying in the wilderness that we don’t have to do it this way.  

    Sorry, Miles.  I admire your devotion to the environment and we certainly need people who will continue to work in its favor, but this was just over the top.

  • that everyone who has ever lived in coal country knows: you must decide if you are going to be a single issue voter on coal.  I have many friends in West Virginia who are — they are the people who refuse to vote for someone like Joe Manchin and are now putting someone like Raese (who is almost so stereotypical Republican wealthy out of touch, anti-worker, totally owned by the coal companies — honestly, you couldn’t make him up if he didn’t actually exist!) within striking distance of the Senate.

    But here’s the other dirty truth — coal isn’t going to go away.  Thinking otherwise just isn’t, to my mind, useful.  Between our dependence upon it, it’s relative cheap price, it’s abundance in US (as opposed to other forms of energy which must be obtained overseas) and a culture that has built itself around a single-industry and put in place (with the help of the coal industry) so many barriers to other forms of industry coming in — well, you sort of stop kidding yourself.

    This doesn’t mean you roll over and play dead.  I refuse to compromise on issues of miner safety, living wages for miners, on the destruction of mountain top removal mining, or on pushing for newer, better and cleaner forms of energy.

    But there’s no point in railing AGAINST coal as an industry.  It will beat you — it’s had nearly 150 years of practice, using every dirty, nasty trick in the book.  That isn’t giving up, that’s just being realistic.