Battle Plans

Mitch McConnell and the Coal Industry’s Last Stand

Shale gas, solar, wind, new regulations and environmentalists have put relentless pressure on coal. But the Senate majority leader still believes he can stem the tide.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s defense of the coal industry is a central element of his across-the-board campaign to thwart the president politically.

Photo illustration by 731; Photos: Getty Images (2)

A ballad called “Coal Keeps the Lights On” took singer-songwriter Jimmy Rose of tiny Pineville, Ky., all the way to the finals of America’s Got Talent in the summer of 2013. AGT judges Howard Stern, the radio shock jock, comedian Howie Mandel, and supermodel Heidi Klum cheered and clapped. “That was a damn good song,” Stern declared. Rose, a 36-year-old former coal miner, says highlighting the industry’s plight was a deliberate choice: “It’s a song about a way of life that’s in danger of disappearing.”

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