In places like West Virginia, coal is also the bedrock of the entire economy so people there are desperately worried about proposed new laws that aim to control pollutiuon by introducing a cap and trade system, setting a limit on the country’s total carbon emmissions.
Coal states like West Virginia have huge political influence in Washington and there is enough coal left to last another 200 years. The miners believe it is their God given right mine it.
Most of the coal states are represnted by Democrats who want to tackle climate change but not at the expense of their voters.
One of the local senators in West Virginia is on the record as saying that he will not vote for anything that harmns the workers’ jobs or families or coal-based economy.
And Republicans right across America are pretty united in their oppositon to cap and trade laws they think will cost business.
Despite President Obama’s eloquence on the issue, there is little political consensus for cuts.
Climate change legislation could help to develop clean coal technology but it will have short term costs and American polticians dare not sacrifice their own people for the planet’s future.
That’s why President Obama travels to Copenhagen with the knowledge the real negotiations are with the American people rather than the rest of the world.