Obama's $38.8M Plan To Replace 2% of Lost Mining Jobs

Brittany M. Hughes | August 24, 2016
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If government waste is a sick joke, then the hardworking, decent Americans in coal country are the butt of it.

The Obama administration announced Wednesday its plans to grant $38.8 million to various economic development projects throughout dozens of coal communities that have been thoroughly wrecked, in part, by President Obama’s EPA regulations. The new "clean air" rules have strangled coalmines and coal-fired plants in states like West Virginia and Kentucky over the past several years, devastating small towns that have historically relied on coal for survival.

And to help these economically depressed areas, the government will dump gobs of taxpayer cash into projects like expanded nature trails and optometry degrees.

In total, the administration boasts, the $38.8 million will create an estimated 3,418 jobs in various coal communities (a cost of about $11,400 per job).

But here’s the real rub. Those 3,400 jobs would make up for about 1.8 percent of the more than 191,000 mining industry jobs that have been lost since 2014.

In fact, if every single one of those 3,418 jobs went to West Virginia alone, they would only make up about a third of the coal mining jobs West Virginia has lost in the past few years.

And that $38.8 million is about 11 percent of the $353 million budget deficit that West Virginia faced heading into 2016, all thanks to a drastic fall in the state’s coal severance tax.

But perhaps most insulting is exactly where all this taxpayer cash is going. For example, about $7.5 million of it will go toward funding the Kentucky College of Optometry...because...um...

Despite this seemingly ridiculous “solution” to an immediate economic crisis, the White House boasts:

KYCO will be only the second optometry college in the Appalachian Region, and will primarily serve Eastern Kentucky, Southern West Virginia, and Southwestern Virginia. Within the first three years of the award, KYCO will graduate 60 optometrists, provide care to 12,000 patients, and bring $26,000,000 in direct economic impact to the regional economy.

Because somehow, sixty optometrists over three years will help make up for 191,000 lost mining jobs.

Other projects to help make up for coal mining jobs (which came along with a starting salary of $60,000) include:

  • A $1.5 million "local foods distribution network” in Central Appalachia
  • $2.2 million to the University of Ohio for “innovation hubs” for local entrepreneurs
  • $2.5 million to extend public water to a local airport in Bluefield, W. Va.
  • A $2.2 million “energy efficiency” intern program for displaced coal miners  
  • $2.2 million for K-12 teachers in Charleston, W. Va. to teach entrepreneurialism
  • $1.5 million downtown revitalization project in Kentucky
  • $1.4 million to expand the Hatfield McCoy Trail in West Virginia
  • $500,000 for a “nature tourism” project in Pennsylvania

According to the White House presser, these new jobs will be spread out across at least five states including West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania.