The United Mine Workers of America, the country’s largest coal miners’ union, will support a “true energy transition” away from coal and fossil fuels that includes jobs for “anybody that loses their job because of a transition in this country,” Cecil Roberts, the UMWA president, said Monday. The union’s support, though qualified, could be a major boost for President Biden’s efforts to fight climate change, in large part because of the power held by West Virginia senator Joe Manchin.
Manchin, who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, joined Roberts for the announcement. The UMWA announcement also included a plan outlining its calls for numerous provisions to give preference to dislocated miners in renewable energy hiring, full funding for programs plugging and cleaning up abandoned oil and gas wells and coal mines, and investment in carbon capture and sequestration technology. Manchin also announced his support for the union-backed PRO Act and called for directing clean energy tax credits to states where fossil fuels jobs have been lost.
“We talk about a ‘just transition’ all the time,″ Roberts added. “I wish people would quit using that. There’s never been a just transition in the history of the United States.″ (AP, E&E $, Politico Pro $, The Hill, Reuters, NBC, Al Jazeera, New York Times $, Vice, Grist; Commentary: Washington Post, Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent analysis $)