Front Porch Blog

A tough election season for the coal industry

Cross-posted from Lazyhorses’ diary on the Daily Kos.

This November is shaping up to be one of the toughest election seasons for the coal industry in recent memory.  No industry other than oil has benefited more from the attack on environmental and safety regulations over the last 6 years by the Bush Administration and the congressional leadership.  From weakening mercury rules and attempts to weaken the Clean Air Act (in the form of the Orwellian “Clear Skies Act”), to weakening the Clean Water Act by allowing mining waste to be dumped indiscriminately in our nation’s waterways, the massive investments by the coal industry to buy the favor of Congress and the White House has never seen a better return on investment.

In the upcoming election, those tables seem to be turning.  Of the 6 incumbent senators that have accepted the most coal industry money, 4 are at serious risk of losing their seats.  According to, the senators receiving the most coal industry money are:

Rank     State        Senator        Coal$$

1    PA    Santorum, Rick (R)    $93,050   
2    VA    Allen, George (R)    $69,050   
3    MO    Talent, James M (R)    $54,050   
4    WV    Byrd, Robert C (D)    $41,350   
5    KY    McConnell, Mitch (R)    $41,350   
6    OH    DeWine, Mike (R)    $26,300   

Of course, many poll-watchers will recognize a lot of the names on that list as incumbents at the greatest risk of losing their seats.  Below are those same six senators with their Real Clear Politics (RCP) ranking (for seats in greatest danger of changing parties) as well as the RCP average of where they stand in recent polls against their challengers:

State    Senator            RCP rank    RCP ave.

PA    Santorum, Rick (R)    1        -10.2
VA    Allen, George (R)    6            +1.3
MO    Talent, James M (R)    5        +1.3
WV    Byrd, Robert C (D)    na.
KY    McConnell, Mitch (R)    na.
OH    DeWine, Mike (R)    2        -9.2

Almost makes you feel bad for the coal industry, doesn’t it?


A similar picture emerges when we look at the House.  The 10 House incumbents receiving the most coal industry money, according to, are as follows:

Rank     District    Rep                    Coal$$

1    PA-18        Murphy, Tim (R)        $29,821   
2    OH-18       Ney, Bob (R)        $28,350   
3    KY-4          Davis, Geoff (R)    $21,000   
4    VA-9         Boucher, Rick (D)    $20,450   
5    WY-AL       Cubin, Barbara (R)    $20,000   
6    TN-9         Ford, Harold E Jr (D)    $18,000   
7    WV-2         Capito, Shelley (R)    $16,250   
8    PA-4          Hart, Melissa (R)    $16,249   
9    CA-11       Pombo, Richard (R)    $15,500   
10    IN-8             Hostettler, John (R)    $12,500   

Of these 10 seats, 5 are in serious jeopardy of changing hands, according to RCP’s rankings of vulnerable House seats.  Here is where those incumbents (or in some cases where the incumbent stepped down, their successor as candidate for their political party) stand:

Dist.   Representative        RCP rank    Recent polls.

PA-18   Murphy, Tim (R)         na.    (Safe R)
OH-18   Ney, Bob (R)         8         -8.0 (RCP)
KY-4    Davis, Geoff (R)     29        tie
VA-9    Boucher, Rick (D)    na.    (Safe D)
WY-AL   Cubin, Barbara (R)   na.    +7 (Mason-Dixon)
TN-9    Ford, Harold Jr (D)  na.        (Safe D)
WV-2    Capito, Shelley (R)  na.        (Safe R)
PA-4    Hart, Melissa (R)    46        +4 (Keystone Poll)
CA-11   Pombo, Richard (R)   38        +1 (Lake Research)
IN-8    Hostettler, John (R) 4        -15.0 (RCP average)

Whether or not the leadership of the House and/or Senate changes hands, the possibility of enacting meaningful energy legislation to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels will be far better in 2007 and 2008 – and the need to defend our most popular and important environmental laws will be greatly reduced.

The likely shakeup in the House and Senate isn’t just good news for Democrats, it’s good news for all of us that breathe air and drink water.

If you’re not familiar with the devastation being caused by the coal industry, be sure to visit




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