Tags: US | west virginia | jim justice | coal plan | industry bailout

W. Va. Gov. Justice Denies Coal Plan an Industry Bailout

Fox News' "America's Newsroom"

By    |   Thursday, 10 Aug 2017 02:48 PM

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, who last month made national news for switching his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, Thursday defended a $4.5 billion request he's made to save the coal industry in his state and elsewhere in the eastern part of the United States, saying the measure is needed for national security.

"It's anything but that," Justice told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" anchor Bill Hemmer, when the reporter asked him if the request that's been made to President Donald Trump is an industry bailout.

"I mean, just think for just one second," said Justice. "We came really close to completely losing our eastern coal fields in the past probably four years. Fifty-five companies took bankruptcy. Now at the end of the day, we better awaken to one thing, and that's for sure: We can't afford today to do without coal in the east."

Justice, a coal and real estate millionaire, was elected as governor as a Democrat in 2016. Until 2015, however, he was a Republican, switching just before running for the state's top office.

According to Bloomberg, Justice's plan calls for the Department of Homeland Security to send pay eastern U.S. utility companies $15 for each ton of Appalachian coal they use.

Critics have panned the plan, saying it would be misguided and too expensive. Andrew Cosgrove, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst, noted that power plants used at least 110 million tons of Appalachian coal in 2016, and paying $15 a ton would have cost at least $1.65 billion.

But Justice said he's discussed his plan with Trump, and that the president is interested. The governor also told Bloomberg he spoke with Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Vice President Mike Pence and Jared Kushner, Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law.

The governor told Hemmer that if the eastern coal fields are lost completely, and the nation is dependent on coal or natural gas from the nation's western states, that would expose the eastern power grid.

"Are we truly willing to take that risk?" said Justice. "I'm not looking for a hand-out in any way, shape, form or fashion. I'm looking for a way to put our miners truly back to work, back to work by the tens of thousands."

Hemmer, pointed out that western coal mine industry experts have complained that Justice's plan does not meet with free market principles, and about the governor's political party switch.

"It's just a matter of national security," the governor responded. "Think about if you awaken to the fact the eastern coal fields are gone and there is a disruption. There is a bomb at a gas junction or at a bridge or two that is bringing western coal. What are we going to do?"

Justice said he thinks Trump "really gets" his plan, and "really understands it."

"This is not a way to expand gigantic coal tonnages but to put the coal miners back to work," said Justice. "If we don't do this we're willing to roll the dice and take a risk. Just think, Bill, we had the power go out one night in New York City and we had just an absolute melee. Now, just think if we had a power disruption in the winter for three months what would happen? We would lose hundreds of thousands of people. It's a risk I don't think we need to take."

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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, who last month made national news for switching his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, Thursday defended a $4.5 billion request he's made to save the coal industry in his state and elsewhere in the eastern part of the United...
US, west virginia, jim justice, coal plan, industry bailout
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2017-48-10
Thursday, 10 Aug 2017 02:48 PM
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