Two years ago I put more than 600 miles on my car during a day-long trip down to Southwest Virginia for a story on the role of coal in the 2010 midterm congressional battle for the 9th District between 28-year Democratic incumbent Rick Boucher and Republican challenger Morgan Griffith.
This year, it seems that coal has achieved an even greater role in the race for between Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. So I spent several hours on the phone talking to experts and people who work in the coal industry and the related “domino” industries that spin off of it. And then last week, photographer Stephanie Klein-Davis and I traveled to Buchanan County to talk to more people about the industry and the election.
The resulting story (which was cut substantially from what I initially wrote) ran today on the front page of the Roanoke Times. I tried to untangle international market forces, federal regulations, policy proposals and rhetoric to understand what’s actually happening in and around the coal industry. There’s only so much you can achieve in a daily newspaper story, though, so I’d argue I didn’t succeed in that goal.
I did want to pass along the links for the energy policies of the candidates in the presidential and senate races for readers who want to dig a little deeper. If a candidate posted a PDF with more detailed policy points, I tried to use that instead of the general points they include on these pages.
As always, we invite your thoughts and comments, both on the story and the issue.
– Mason Adams