Not long ago, the Center for American Progress informed us that the Appalachian coal basin -- which includes portions of Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky -- faces economic challenges that other coal-rich areas of the country don't. The chief hurdle CAP identifies is the favoritism federal policy shows toward the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana (which provides 40% of the nation's coal) -- turns out we lease our public lands to coal corporations for much less money in the Powder River Basin than we do in the Appalachia, and the land in the Powder River Basin accounts for most of the federal land we lease to coal corporations. That's a much better explanation for Appalachian hard times than REGULASHUNZ KILLZ TEH JOBZ!!!!! CAP suggests we either raise the royalty rate on PRB coal or force mining corporations to apply the rate differently; the latter sounds like the fall-back option, so you can guess which one I'd prefer. The Sierra Club helps you tell the Office of Natural Resources Revenue to vigorously reform our coal-leasing process.
Meanwhile, President Obama has made all the right noises about the Supreme Court's nefarious Citizens United v. FEC decision, and has called for a Constitutional amendment (much like the one Senate Republicans made up stupid lies about and then filibustered last year) to remedy the onslaught of corporate campaign funding Citizens United has unleashed. But he has the power to issue an executive order mandating that all corporations that do business with our federal government disclose all their campaign spending, and, naturally, he hasn't done that yet. Yes, a Constitutional amendment would be better, but it's still odd that a man who called us "sanctimonious purists" for opposing his 2010 tax-cut "compromise" would be willing to let the perfect murder the good here. Perhaps he just needs more talking-to, which wouldn't make him unique on Capitol Hill, and both Common Cause and Public Citizen help you do that. Don't believe the hype that this order would "single out" federal contractors -- I've always said that if you take our money, you follow our rules.