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Trump Talks Russia, Immigration, 'Fake News'
CHARLESTON, W.Va.—For West Virginians it’s all about energy, and they brought a lot of it to the Make America Great Again rally in Charleston on Aug. 21. The state is the second-largest coal producer (after Wyoming) in the country, and President Donald Trump is credited for the resurgence that is underway in the industry. Prime seats were reserved for a group of miners at the rally, and Trump spoke directly to them on several occasions. "We are putting our great coal miners back to work," Trump said to roaring applause. "We love clean, beautiful West Virginia coal. We love it.” "You know, it's indestructible stuff. In times of war, in times of conflict, you can blow up those windmills, they fall down real quick. You can blow up those pipelines … and you're not going to fix them too fast. You can do a lot of things to those solar panels, but you know what you can't hurt? Coal. You can do whatever you want to coal.” Back in Business T.J. Blevins, 41, said he was almost forced to close the doors on his company during the Obama era. He owns American Mine Services, which supplies mining companies with equipment such as augers and drill bits. His father founded the company around three decades ago and now T.J. runs it. “The eight years of the Obama administration nearly shut the doors,” Blevins said. “We are one of the very few successful businesses in our area, and we just about closed the doors.” Blevins’ company operates in Man, West Virginia, which has a population of 683, according to the Census Bureau in 2016. In 2008, he had 16 full time employees. By the end of Obama’s presidency, he was down to four. “As soon as they elected Trump, we started getting calls … they knew they were going back to work,” Blevins said. “And it was almost immediately when he took over in January, we took back off. And we’re back up to 13 employees now.” Blevins said the steel mills, coal mines, and deep mines are all seeing a resurgence. “We’re back to booming again, I mean we’re knocking down,” he said. He attributes the new boom to Trump lifting Environment Protection Agency (EPA) restrictions. “I live about 35 feet from a railroad track, I’ve lived here all my life. When Obama took over, I thought there’d never be another train come through there, that’s how bad it was,” Blevins said. “Now there’s at least 30 trains a month coming up and down the holler. It went from one to two to every bit of 30. It’s a good swing.” Blevins is optimistic about the future “as long as we don’t get another Democrat against coal” as president. He said he does some business on a strip mine that is guaranteed work for the next 30-some years. A company near his house has two deep mines and is preparing to open a third early next year. “It’s rollin,’ it’s back like it was,” he said. Clean Energy Plan Trump brought onstage Patrick Morrisey, Senate hopeful and current West Virginia attorney general. Morrisey will face incumbent Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) in the November midterm election. According to an aggregation of polls, Real Clear Politics puts Manchin up by 7 points over Morrisey as of Aug. 16. However, Trump’s endorsements have lifted other candidates from behind recently and may give Morrisey the boost he needs. “Joe has got to go,” said Morrisey. "Donald Trump and I are fighting every day for our coal miners and the hard working men and women of our state. He's trying to get the man off your back and I'm working every day to help him do it.” Earlier in the day, the administration rolled out its Affordable Clean Energy plan, which would replace the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The new plan scraps restrictions aimed at eliminating coal as an energy source and moves regulatory power to the states. Coal was responsible for 30.1 percent of the electricity generated in the United States in 2017, according to the Energy Information Administration. Natural gas was responsible for 31.7 percent, having surpassed coal in 2016 as the lead source of the nation’s electricity generation for the first time. "[The plan] will help our coal-fire