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Manchin, others react to Biden’s comments about shutting down coal plants

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — President Joe Biden’s comments Friday night about shutting down coal-fired power plants brought swift reaction Saturday in West Virginia.

Biden, when speaking at an event in California Friday night said, “So it’s going to become a wind generation and all they’re doing is gonna save them a hell of a lot of money and using the same transmission line that transmitted coal fired electric on. We’re gonna be shutting these plants down all across America.”

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. (File)

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin called Biden’s comments “outrageous and divorced from reality.”

“They ignore the severe economic pain the American people are feeling because of rising energy costs. Comments like these are the reason the American people are losing trust in President Biden and instead believes he does not understand the need to have an all in energy policy that would keep our nation totally energy independent and secure,” Manchin said. “It seems his positions change depending on the audience and the politics of the day. Politicizing our nation’s energy policies would only bring higher prices and more pain for the American people.”

Manchin said Biden has never made similar comments to him about coal.

UMWA President Cecil Roberts said the union could not disagree more with Biden’s comments, saying closing plants would put thousands of more miners out of work.

Cecil Roberts

“This harkens back to the days of previous administrations when comments like these were all too common and were made without any reference to what the effect on workers, their families, and their communities would be,” Roberts said.

Roberts said the union understands an energy transition is underway but coal jobs will still be needed.

“It’s easy to talk about ending an industry that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in Appalachia and the Midwest, but the reality of such an action is harsh. Now is not the time to be talking about eliminating high-paying jobs anywhere in America, especially those that also provide a tax base for communities, fund health care facilities, and small businesses serving millions of people,” Roberts said.

Biden’s comments come come just a few days before Tuesday’s general election. West Virginia Republican Party Chair Elgine McArdle said the comments should send a clear message for West Virginia voters.

“The past year has settled the argument, countries that give up fossil fuels leave themselves at the mercy of foreign oligarchs and crushing energy prices. Biden’s astounding ignorance is dangerous to America and deadly to West Virginia’s economy,” McArdle said. “If Joe Biden’s anti-coal vision is actually carried out, our state will be reduced to the status of a third-world country with the United States soon to follow.”

McCardle said the real threat to democracy is what she called the Democrat’s socialist agenda.