I haven’t spoken explicitly about the Green New Deal, partly because no one really knows what it is yet – it hasn’t been defined nationally. But acknowledging the challenge of climate change and figuring out how we can respond to it nationally, in a way that doesn’t leave places like West Virginia behind, is very central to my campaign. Because frankly, what we’ve seen over the last decade as the coal industry has declined is injured communities and workers in West Virginia.
These companies went bankrupt, they gave up their pension and health care obligations, and the federal government had to step in and preserve some of those pensions, but it didn’t preserve all of them. So the first step is to make sure that as our country’s economy moves away from coal and natural gas, we have a real commitment to places like West Virginia and we make sure there’s federal investments for other industries, including drinking water and environmental rehabilitation.
If we put people to work, putting back everything that was destroyed by the coal industry, that’s a tremendous amount of work. Rural broadband, transportation — there’s a huge amount of infrastructure needed here.
At the same time, you have to make a very firm commitment that people don’t lose their pensions, people don’t lose their health care benefits, people don’t lose their salaries because of this transition. West Virginians are rightly skeptical about losing their jobs. And how the decline of the coal industry has gone so far, it’s completely out of control, and a lot of people have suffered.