Leftist foundations work against coal miners

Coal mining in West Virginia provides more than 50 percent of the nation’s electricity, but left-wing donors like the Tides Foundation and the Rockefeller Family Fund have funneled thousands of dollars to groups opposing construction of needed new coal-fired power plants and favoring cap-and-trade limits on carbon dioxide emissions while showing little regard for coal miners’ jobs.

Tides donated $138,000 to West Virginia groups between 2008 and 2004, $40,000 of which went to Appalachian Voices, a North Carolina-based activist group that protests mountaintop removal in West Virginia and other Appalachian states. Another $15,000 was given to Coal River Mountain Watch, a West Virginia-based group which also protests mountaintop removal.

Tides has made headlines recently due to their connections to ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. ACORN founder Wade Rathke served on the board of Tides until this year. He stepped down from both organizations due to a scandal involving the embezzling of nearly $1 million by his brother, Dale Rathke. Tides founder Drummond Pike helped hide the embezzlement.

Tides also uses the Appalachian Community Fund, based in Knoxville, Tenn., to fund anti-coal groups. The Appalachian Community Fund, from 2001 to 2007, gave $118,840 to West Virginia organizations. Another $37,645 went to Coal River Mountain Watch and $26,227 to the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.

These are small amounts compared to the $500,000 the Rockefeller Family Fund donated to anti-coal groups around the nation in 2007. Out of those funds, Appalachian Voices received $35,000 “to fight the development of new coal-fired power plants in Appalachia.”

Founded in 1967, the Rockefeller Family Fund supports multiple left-wing issues. Justin and Emily Rockefeller, son and daughter-in-law, respectively, of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., are on the fund’s board.

Sen. Rockefeller also endorsed President Barack Obama against former Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Both the Rockefeller Family Foundation and Obama support a cap-and-trade program to curb greenhouse emissions.

Now these groups have an ally in the White House. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering suspending Arch Coal’s mountaintop removal permit for their Spruce No. 1 mine, while Obama’s Environment Protection Agency is holding 79 mountaintop removal permits for further review.

If a cap-and-trade bill comes out of Congress, the Heritage Foundation says West Virginia could see electricity prices rise by $970.63 and job losses totaling 11,687 by 2035. To put that in perspective, West Virginia’s total coal employment in 2008 was 34,527.

Coal will be replaced by far cleaner and more efficient energy resources in the future. But until these new technologies are available, why implement policies that will instantly hurt West Virginia’s workers simply for questionable decreases in worldwide temperature?

The money that has been donated to these anti-coal, anti-mine worker groups would have been much better spent funding research into new technologies. Instead, the money is funding protesters who disrupt the jobs of hardworking West Virginians whose only crime is trying to provide for their families. If these groups truly cared about Appalachia, they’d find a better way to accomplish their goals.

Steven Allen Adams is editor of West Virginia Watchdog, a project of the Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia.

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