Mitch McConnell's Musical Attack on EPA

Jimmy Rose was a contestant on the eighth season of America's Got Talent. Jimmy Rose was a contestant on the eighth season of America's Got Talent. Debby Wong/Shutterstock.com

This week's public hearings on the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan have the usual roster of speakers: environmentalists, industry bigwigs, and politicians looking to make stump speeches for or against the rule. But it's likely only one has the résumé of Jimmy Rose: Iraq veteran, coal miner, and third-place finisher on the reality show America's Got Talent.

The Pineville, Ky., native will speak Wednesday at an EPA hearing in Washington as a guest of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell before heading to the Capitol to perform his signature song "Coal Keeps the Lights On." The song carries an obvious—and for the Kentucky senator a politically potent—message. Rose's lyrics invoke red-meat imagery ("tires on the truck and a sundress on my baby girl") to underscore the importance of coal jobs to Appalachia, before admonishing "plumb-down crazy" Washington for anti-coal policies. McConnell has appeared with Rose before and even referenced Rose's song last fall in trying to introduce a bill that would have blocked the EPA rules.

Rose spoke to National Journal about the message he hopes to bring to EPA, how he wrote "Coal Keeps the Lights On," and whether EPA is dodging criticism of its climate plan. Here are excerpts from the interview.

What message are you bringing to the EPA hearings?

I hope they let me sing, but I'll get to sing my song at the Capitol [in a press conference with McConnell]. It's going to be clear and straight to the point about what they're doing to us here in Appalachia. I want to put a face on what they're doing and the restrictions they're putting in place. This war on coal, it's different if you're not from around here in coal country. I want to show them in some way what they're doing to us. It's a real honor to be a part of this with [McConnell]. We've done several events with him. He's fighting this battle, and it's an honor to be with Mitch and to represent coal country as a whole.

McConnell has said that EPA ought to be holding a hearing in coal country. Do you agree?

It's easy for them to hold these hearings outside the real affected area. They don't have to look at the people, they don't have to look at the poverty-stricken communities. They don't have to make up some excuse to make them feel better. It's a sad thing they won't drive through the towns and communities and look at the schools. This is a war on coal, I feel strong about that. I think they should have to come around and listen to the people they're affecting. Any opportunity I get, I'll jump on it to be heard, but it's sad they won't come to the combat zone.

How did your song "Coal Keeps the Lights On" come about?

I wrote that song several years back, even before I was on America's Got Talent. I wrote that in support of my people and my hometown. The people who are losing their homes and their jobs and have to move away just to find work. To me, it's being a voice for my own people. I personalize it when I talk about the bobcats and the mountain lions [local high school mascots], so it's who I am and my grass roots. I wrote it out of anger and out of resentment and from my personal experience. I've worked in the ground; I know how it feels.

Why do you think EPA should hear the song?

If I can sing it to them, I hope they'd truly listen to the lyrics and the true meaning of what I'm trying to say. I think they'd get a sense of the repercussions of the decisions they're making. I'm all for saving the environment, I'm for saving the future, but I think we've got to save us first. I don't know if my song will affect any decisions, but hopefully it will make them consider the impact of their actions.

This article appears in the July 30, 2014 edition of NJ Daily as Mitch McConnell’s Musical Attack on EPA.

(Image via Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.