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Campbell’s Corner: Mike Carey’s policies threaten the future of Appalachia

Clarification appended.

Republican candidate Mike Carey won the special election for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District earlier this month against Democratic candidate Allison Russo. While he takes on the persona of an Appalachian hero, his extremist policies will hurt rural area residents. 

Carey’s mission statement on his website says it all: “Pro-Trump. America First. Outsider. Ready To Fight.” He is the stereotypical “drain the swamp” hero candidate that the Republican party craves to further distance itself from the Democratic party. 

He previously served as an officer in the Army National Guard and has an over 20-year career as an executive for American Consolidated Natural Resources, a coal company. He has even been endorsed by Republican leaders, such as former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence

Prior to his campaign, Carey worked as a coal lobbyist, advocating against clean energy policies. A former staff attorney at the Ohio Environmental Council, Nolan Moser, said that “he does an exceptional job selling fiction.” 

He continues to be an advocate for fossil fuel use. He claimed President Biden “killed thousands of good-paying American jobs” with efforts to reduce fossil fuel use and refers to the Green New Deal as a “$93 trillion sham.” 

Carey makes the horrifying assumption that the reduction of fossil fuel use will automatically mean a lack of jobs for residents of Appalachia. However, renewable energy can actually be beneficial to both rural areas and their residents. 

Coal production has fallen by more than 65% overall in Appalachia between 2005 and 2020. The areas that experienced the most loss were the ones most dependent on fossil fuel use. Since then, renewable energy has provided about 20% of the world’s total power

Rural areas are actually great deployment areas of renewable energy due to sparse population and open land. Not only will job and business opportunities increase, but rural areas have the opportunity to produce their own energy rather than importing fossil fuel energy from an outside source. This allows citizens to generate reliable and cheaper energy. 

Contributing to his harsh and mortifying rhetoric, Carey disguises his pro-life agenda as common Christian values. He said, “It’s unconscionable that the Democrats caved to Planned Parenthood and excluded the Hyde Amendment from their $1.9 trillion spending bill, allowing your tax dollars to fund abortions.”  

Carey’s win perfectly aligns with Ohio legislators introducing an abortion bill similar to Texas’ law. However, this bill goes further than Texas and looks to ban all abortions. The only exception is when the mother’s life is in danger. It does not outline an exception for rape or incest. 

The bill also allows anyone, even people who have no connection to the patient, to sue doctors, health centers and anyone who helps the patient access abortion in court and gets no less than $10,000. Under the law, a random abortion protestor could sue an Uber driver for taking a patient to their appointment. 

More than 20,000 abortions were performed in Ohio last year. In Athens County, there were 54 abortions. While these numbers are a little higher than last year’s, abortions have been declining since 2010. So, even under Obama, a Democratic president, fewer women were getting abortions. 

Republicans like Carey believe completely getting rid of abortions will reduce the number of women getting them. Whether it’s legal or illegal, women will continue to get abortions in other states and possibly other countries. With Carey’s faith-based views guiding his vote toward legislation, Appalachian women could lose the right to have an abortion. 

Mike Carey is camouflaging fossil fuel use and pro-life policies as Appalachian values. Although these policies don’t actually benefit residents, citizens might not know better because his jarring rhetoric convinces otherwise. 

In true political fashion, Carey is attempting to align his personal agendas and call them Appalachia’s. Let’s just hope residents catch on before it’s too late. 

Hannah Campbell is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Hannah by tweeting her at @hannahcmpbell.

Clarification: A previous version of this article didn’t clarify that Nolan Moser is a former staff attorney at the Ohio Environmental Council. Moser hasn’t worked there since 2014. This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

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