Portman Voted to Protect a Western Coal Monopoly at the Expense of Appalachian Coal

COLUMBUS — Today, the Ohio Democratic Party is revealing Sen. Rob Portman’s true record of hurting coal workers in Appalachia — voting to provide unfair federal benefits and continuing a “federal-coal producing monopoly” for Western coal at the expense of Appalachian coal and the working people of southeast Ohio.

Here are the facts:

  • In Congress, Portman voted against an amendment that tried to limit unfair federal coal leases that overwhelmingly benefit Western coal at the expense of Appalachian coal.

  • The federal coal leases that Portman voted for provide land to Western coal companies at far below fair market value — dramatically undercutting Appalachian coal workers and Appalachian coal production in order to provide a handout to the the Western coal industry.

  • Congressional Quarterly wrote that Portman’s position was in line with Western coal regions, but opposed by Eastern coal leaders representing Appalachia.

“Senator Portman is the ultimate Washington insider — he has no idea what life is like in the Appalachian coal fields, and in Congress he gave Western coal an unfair, taxpayer-subsidized advantage while Ohio’s own coal workers pay the price,” said Daniel van Hoogstraten of the Ohio Democratic Party. “By voting to allow Western coal to further an unfair advantage over Ohio coal, Senator Portman is hurting Appalachian workers, families and the entire regional community of Southeast Ohio. It’s another example of how disconnected Portman has become from the concerns of Ohio’s working families after spending decades pushing the agenda of the wealthy and well-connected in Washington.”

Ted Strickland voted for the amendment to curb Western coal’s unfair advantage over Appalachian coal. Strickland also authored a report urging federal reform to the federal coal lease program, arguing it unfairly hurt Appalachian coal.


  • Portman Voted To Eliminate The 160-Acre Limit For Federal Coal Leases, Benefitting Western Coal. Strickland Voted Against It. In April 2003, Portman voted against: “Rahall, D-W.Va., amendment that would strike a provision that would eliminate the 160-acre limit on coal leases.” The amendment failed, 208-212. [CQ, 4/11/03; H.R. 6, H.Amdt. 84, Vote 143, 4/11/03]

  • Congressional Quarterly: Lawmakers Representing The Large Western Coal Regions Supported Repealing The Cap. “Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, D-W.Va., fell short in a much closer vote, 208-212, on an amendment that would have stripped language that removes a 160-acre cap on coal mining licenses on federal lands. This part of the bill was supported by western lawmakers, who represent coal-rich areas with much larger public land assets. Rahall was joined by environmentalists and Eastern state lawmakers who did not want to see large swaths of public lands opened up to coal mining.” [Congressional Quarterly, 4/11/03]