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Fact-chek: Did Joe Manchin Support Obama and Clinton Efforts to Kill Coal Jobs?

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In this Jan. 22, 2018, file photo, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., talks with a staffer on Capitol Hill in Washington. Photo: Susan Walsh/Ap Photo FILE

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted his support for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey — and his opposition to Morrissey’s Democratic incumbent, Sen. Joe Manchin — on Oct. 13, 2018.

Trump Jr. tweeted, “Liberal Joe Manchin can’t be trusted to fight for West Virginia. He sold out Mountaineers when he supported Hillary Clinton over my father & on just about every other issue imaginable.”

The tweet attached a Morrissey campaign ad that included the charge that Manchin “supported Obama and Clinton’s campaigns to kill coal jobs.”

 

Those are fighting words in coal-producing West Virginia. So we wondered whether it is accurate that Manchin supported Hillary Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s efforts to kill coal jobs.

As we have previously noted, Manchin did back Clinton in the 2016 election — an endorsement that turned out to be strongly at odds with most voters in a state that voted strongly for her Republican opponent, Donald Trump. (Manchin later told Politico that his decision to stick by Clinton was “a mistake. It was a mistake politically.”)

But the Morrissey ad didn’t just refer to Manchin’s endorsement of the candidates. It went a step further and said that Manchin specifically supported their coal policies. And that doesn’t appear to be correct.

In his initial campaign for Senate in 2010, he famously ran an ad in which he shot a copy of the cap-and-trade bill proposed by Obama and other Democrats that would have curbed emissions, potentially hurting the coal industry. (The bill was never enacted.)

In an 2013 Washington Post article, Manchin said that Obama’s climate initiative — which would have put coal at a disadvantage to other forms of energy — amounted to a declaration of war on the coal industry. “The regulations the President wants to force on coal are not feasible. And if it’s not feasible, it’s not reasonable,” Manchin said.

Manchin went on to say in the article that it is not acceptable to get rid of coal. “It’s clear now that the president has declared a war on coal. It’s simply unacceptable that one of the key elements of his climate change proposal places regulations on coal that are completely impossible to meet with existing technology.”

He joined Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to introduce the Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act, which the lawmakers touted as helping “rein in President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.”

In 2015, he emphasized his opposition to Obama’s Clean Power Plan in a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy. He also urged constituents to direct their opposition to the plan at field hearings.

Saying he believed that the plan would “result in escalating utility bills for Mountain State residents and even more coal mining job losses,” Manchin wrote that “forcing new coal-fired plants to meet standards when experts know that the required technology is not sustainably operational on a commercial scale makes absolutely no sense. By requiring technology that has never been adequately demonstrated, the EPA is forcing an industry to shut down and consumers to pay higher utility bills.”

He also voted to advance a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to reverse the “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule, arguing that it would “impact the coal mining in West Virginia.”

Manchin’s Senate website also examples of Manchin supporting the coal industry, such as introducing in 2018 the Fossil Energy Utilization, Enhancement, and Leadership Act, which was designed to “protect coal jobs and develop new technologies to be used domestically and exported internationally,” and supportingefforts to use the Defense Production Act to protect “clean-burning, coal-fired power plants.”

The Morrisey campaign did not respond to repeated requests to offer examples of Manchin opposing the coal industry.

Our ruling

A tweet posted by Patrick Morrisey and shared by Donald Trump Jr. said that Manchin “supported Obama and Clinton’s campaigns to kill coal jobs.”

Manchin actively opposed the two biggest efforts backed by Obama and Clinton over coal industry opposition: the cap-and-trade bill and the Clean Power Plan. He also pursued other legislative and regulatory efforts that aided the coal industry.

We rate the statement False.

This story was originally published by PolitiFact.

Fact Check

Fact-check: Does West Virginia have the Nation’s Fourth-worst Poverty Rate?

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This March 15, 2018 photo shows Moundsville, W.Va., from a nearby farm. Photo: Paul Vernon/AP Photo

In a Nov. 8 op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Democratic state Sen. Mike Romano expressed concern about the state of the West Virginia economy.

“Our poverty rate, which has not declined since the Great Recession, was 19.1 percent, the fourth-highest in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau,” Romano wrote.

Are Romano’s statistics about West Virginia poverty accurate? We took a closer look.

We turned to official U.S. Census Bureau data for poverty by state and looked at 2017, the most recent year for which data was available. While there are two main Census Bureau sources for poverty statistics — the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey — experts we consulted with agreed that the American Community Survey data was better for a statewide statistic because it has a much larger sample size.

Romano was correct that West Virginia had the fourth-highest poverty rate of any state in 2017, at 19.1 percent.

Here are the five states with the highest poverty rates that year:

1. Mississippi: 19.8 percent

2. Louisiana: 19.7 percent

3. New Mexico: 19.7 percent

4. West Virginia: 19.1 percent

5. Kentucky: 17.2 percentOur ruling

Romano said the poverty rate in West Virginia “was 19.1 percent, the fourth-highest in the country.”

He’s right on both counts, so we rate his statement True.

This story was originally published by PolitiFact.

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Fact Check

Fact-check: Have Median Incomes in West Virginia Not Risen in a Decade?

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Minden, West Virginia. Photo: Brittany Patterson/ WVPB

In a Nov. 8 op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Democratic state Sen. Mike Romano offered a litany of troubling statistics about West Virginia’s economy and urged the creation of “a real economic comeback” in West Virginia.

One of Romano’s statistics was that, “adjusting for inflation, West Virginia’s median household income has not grown in a decade.”

We fact-checked two other statements from his op-ed that turned out to be True.

Is the latest one on stagnant income correct? We turned to official federal data from the Census Bureau to find out.

That data shows that in 2007, the inflation-adjusted median household income in West Virginia was $49,885 — the culmination of a decade and a half of consistent gains above the rate of inflation.

But one decade later, the 2007 figure remains the state’s highest median income level since the statistic was first recorded in 1984. Over that decade, the median income fell by 9 percent when factoring in inflation. (Data for 2018 is not available yet.)

The nation as a whole has seen some income stagnation since 1999, but nothing as severe as West Virginia experienced. Nationally, median incomes have risen every year since 2014 and hit an all-time high in 2017.

Comparing the specific years Romano used — 2007 to 2017 — the national figure rose by 3 percent.

Our ruling

Romano wrote that “adjusting for inflation, West Virginia’s median household income has not grown in a decade.” West Virginia’s inflation-adjusted median income has dropped 9 percent in the last decade, even as the national figure has risen by 3 percent. We rate his statement True.

This story was originally published by PolitiFact.

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Fact Check

Fact-check: Does West Virginia Spend Half its Budget on K-12 Education?

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Tyler Consolidated High School social studies teacher Susan Gilbert. Photo: Ashton Marra/100 Days in Appalachia

Is almost half of West Virginia’s state budget devoted to K-12 education? That’s what West Virginia state Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso, a Democrat, said.

“Fifty percent of our (West Virginia) budget was for lower education,” Prezioso said during a panel discussion at West Virginia University on Nov. 29, 2018.

We looked at the most recent budget report released by the state to determine whether Prezioso was accurate.

According to the most recent West Virginia executive budget document, the state spent $1.919 billion on “education” in fiscal year 2017, the most recent year for which actual expenditures are currently available. (This category does not include university spending. Expenditures for “higher education” totaled $392.9 million.)

Total expenditures for fiscal year 2017 were about $4.2 billion. That means K-12 education accounted for about 46 percent of the budget.

As for the recommendations for fiscal year 2019, education spending would account for 44.26 percent of overall spending.

After the panel, PolitiFact West Virginia asked Prezioso to clarify what he had meant, and he said that the 50 percent figure was an approximation.

Our ruling  

At the panel, Prezioso said that “50 percent of our (West Virginia) budget was for lower education.”

We found that it was 46 percent for 2017 and a recommended 44 percent for 2019. Prezioso was off by a few percentage points, but he was in the ballpark, so we rate his statement Mostly True.

This story was originally published by PolitiFact.

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