By Jack Phillips
President Joe Biden may have lost votes in Pennsylvania’s statewide races after he made a comment about shutting down coal plants, said a former White House economic adviser.
“In some sense, Biden seemingly channeled Hillary Clinton’s comment back in 2016 in West Virginia and Ohio, when she was talking about shutting down the coal mines, and she lost West Virginia by 70 percent to 30 percent,” former Trump administration adviser Peter Navarro told Newsmax this weekend.
Pennsylvania is a major producer and consumer of coal.
While speaking in California on Nov. 4, Biden said he was “in Massachusetts about a month ago on the site of the largest old coal plant in America. Guess what? It cost them too much money. … No one is building new coal plants because they can’t rely on it, even if they have all the coal guaranteed for the rest of the existence of the plant … it’s going to become a wind generation.”
In the midst of worldwide energy shortfalls, the comment drew criticism from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). West Virginia, like Pennsylvania, is also a major producer and consumer of coal.
Manchin, the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, said those comments were “divorced from reality” and “outrageous,” adding, “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.”
Ahead of the midterms, Biden’s statement “is a gift to all Republicans running in Pennsylvania because they have coal mines, but they also have a lot of frackers who heard them loud and clear,” said Navarro. “I think Biden just helped [Republicans] get another 2 percent points each in terms of their totals,”
White House Statement
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre attempted to walk back Biden’s remarks in a statement issued on Saturday.
“President Biden knows that the men and women of coal country built this nation: they powered its steel mills and factories, kept its homes and schools and offices warm,” her statement said. “They made this the most productive and powerful nation on Earth. He came to the White House to end years of big words but little action to help the coal-producing parts of our country.”
The press secretary then suggested that Biden’s comment about coal plants were “twisted” and he was instead “commenting on a fact of economics and technology: as it has been from its earliest days as an energy superpower, America is once again in the midst of an energy transition.”
Manchin’s criticism of Biden’s remark comes just with just days to go before the 2022 midterms amid decades-high inflation, soaring energy bills, and persistently high gas prices. Tuesday’s midterms will determine whether Democrats retain control of Congress and hinge on races like the one for an open Senate seat in Pennsylvania.
Since taking office, Biden and Democrats frequently promoted electric vehicles as well as wind, solar, and hydroelectric energy sources while consistently denigrating oil and gas. In California and New York state, rules have been implemented to ban the sale of nearly all new gas-powered vehicles in favor of electric ones by 2035, drawing widespread concern from industry groups and conservatives.
Reuters contributed to this report.