Dems in coal states diverge on Obama policies

They fault President Barack Obama and his Environmental Protection Agency for new clean air rules they deride as a devastating blow to a multibillion-dollar industry that has been the lifeblood of Appalachia for generations. The agency standards imposed earlier this year tightened limits on existing coal powered-plant emissions while guidelines on restricting greenhouse gases could affect new plants as early as 2013.
Associated Press
Oct 13, 2012

Along the rolling hills of this tiny Ohio town — population just over 5,100 — campaign signs for judges, state legislators and county officials crowd the neat lawns. As the road curves toward the interstate, one banner overshadows them all: "End the war on coal. Fire Obama."

Barb Swan, who runs Swan's Sport Shop on West Main Street, is a registered Democrat and daughter of a coal miner. She won't be voting for Obama and she won't back Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, whom she contends puts the president's energy policies over the interests of his constituents.

"If you have a district that's coal, you fight for coal," argued the 67-year-old Swan.

Obama's moves on clean air and fossil fuels have complicated the lives of Democrats in coal-rich states that count on mining for jobs and economic growth, with incumbents and candidates adopting drastically different strategies to ensure their own political survival.

In West Virginia, where the president is wildly unpopular, Sen. Joe Manchin boasts about his unyielding opposition to the EPA and his confrontations with the administration. In his latest campaign ad, Manchin — rifle in hand — alludes to a previous commercial in which he shoots Obama's bill to cap greenhouse gases from coal-burning power plants. The senator says the state has enough coal and natural gas to provide energy and jobs for decades, and "I'll take on anyone who tries to stop us."

In Republican-leaning Indiana, Democratic Senate candidate Joe Donnelly ignored Obama's objections and embraced a House GOP bill to undo the EPA rules. In swing state Ohio, Brown espouses an all-of-the-above energy policy similar to Obama's and dismisses claims of a "war on coal" as Republican talking points.

The White House, for its part, insists that the criticism of its record on coal is unfounded.

"The president has made clear that coal has an important role to play in our energy economy today and it will in the future, which is why this administration has worked to make sure that moving forward we can continue to rely on a broad range of domestic energy sources from oil and gas, to wind and solar, to nuclear, as well as clean coal," said Clark Stevens, a White House spokesman.

The administration points to a 31 percent increase in coal exports and greater flexibility in enforcing the new standards. The economic prospects for coal, Stevens said, "reflect the independent, financial decisions that utilities are making in response to the increase in cheap, abundant natural gas."

Coal's woes do extend far beyond the new EPA rules.

Natural gas is plentiful, less expensive and more environmentally friendly. A rush is on in the same Appalachian towns where coal has been king to claim natural gas mineral rights in the region's Marcellus and Utica shale reserves. Out-of-town lawyers have descended upon the courthouse in the Belmont County seat to pour over decades-old deeds and titles, some dating to the late 1800s, as they figure out which families should get checks.

"The hallways are filled," said Kent Moore, the former Republican Party chairman in Belmont. "They're moving from one county to another."

In 2011, U.S. production of natural gas surpassed coal production for the first time in 20 years, according to the government's Energy Information Administration.

China's economic slowdown and the diminishing demand for the top-grade coal to make steel has affected coal in the eastern United States. Other countries, such as Brazil, are moving ahead with their production.

"It's a perfect storm of bad things that can happen," said Carol L. Raulston, a spokeswoman for the National Mining Association.

But listen to an Obama campaign ad on country radio in eastern Ohio, and coal and natural gas are doing just fine. The spot says coal production is up 7 percent and coal jobs have increased 10 percent during Obama's tenure. Natural gas production is at an all-time high.

His campaign contends that Obama would be better for coal than rival Mitt Romney, and the commercial highlights the Republican saying in 2003 that he wouldn't back a coal-fired plant "that kills people."

Romney accuses Obama of imposing regulations that would "bankrupt" the coal industry. He promises that the United States will become energy independent by 2020 through more aggressive exploitation of domestic oil, gas, coal and other natural resources. The Republican also vows to pursue measured reforms of environmental laws and regulations without impeding jobs or industries.

Anti-Obama commercials on the radio in Ohio use the president's 2008 remark that if someone wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can go ahead, but "it's just that it will bankrupt them." The tagline says "let's cap Obama and trade him for Mitt Romney."

The United Mine Workers of America, which endorsed Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936, John F. Kennedy in 1960 and Obama in 2008, has declined to back a presidential candidate this year, saying it doesn't see either Obama or Romney offering the best opportunities for its members.

 

Comments

eriemom

"Natural gas is plentiful, less expensive and more environmentally friendly."
Electricity production is moving to natural gas. The EPA is a scape goat used by the anti-regulation crowd.

The Big Dog's back

More right wing propaganda. The Repubs exploit people like this.

buckeye15

Just like they exploit evangelicals for their money and votes. Republicans in Washington could care less about abortion.

coasterfan

Quite true, Buckeye. GOP politicians always campaign on an anti-abortion stance, then drop the issue Iike a hot potato once elected.

Riskkbreaker

If they always drop it like a hot potato after they get elected..then why do *some people* always harp on it as one of the biggest reasons not to elect them?

swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat

☭Obama☭ doesn't own any coal stocks.

JACKEL

Just like the Hypocrite Dumacrats that fly around on their jets and limos!Talk about hypocrites,how about those Pro Life Catholics like,Biden,Kerry and Pelosi
and the biggest ever The Kennedys?

Bluto

Flying limos ?

buckeye15

Bluto, clearly you are watching the wrong "news" sources if you haven't seen the democrappers' flying limos.

coasterfan

Does anyone think that the right wingers are more convincing because of their name-calling? When the beat you can do is to offer an ad hominem attack, it weakens your argument. Furthermore, unless these same folks wish to be viewed as hypocrites, I would hope that none of them will be accepting any Medicare coverage or Social Security checks, or unemployment checks in the future, since these programs were put in place by Progressives. Republicans, of course fought each of these vehemently when first enacted.

Riskkbreaker

Coasterfan..wait, what? Are you saying that the Left-Wing is doing LESS name-calling? I watched the entire Biden/Ryan debate without any pre-conceptions about how it would go and what the outcome would be. Biden continually resorted to these ad hominem attacks you speak of. I suppose it may have all sounded very plausible to you, tho.

As to your comment about Medicare and Social Security, how is it hypocritical to use the program that they were forced to fund? It is just as simple as saying "I think this is a bad program but this is what you stuck me with." Nothing hypocritical there.
How is it a bad thing that Republicans, long ago, opposed programs that are now, as was predicted long ago, facing potential collapse?

Darkhorse

Actually if you go back and look at the original legislation you will find that Republicans promoted SS and Unemployment checks. The Damocrats have used this in their own attacks against the Republicans for years. Like why would you want to change SS rules and Unemployment rights after you sponsered them and got them passed. Read your history.

Randy_Marsh

When I was asked earlier about the issue of coal…under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket…even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad, because I’m capping greenhouse gasses, coal power plants, natural gas…you name it…whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retro-fit their operations. B. Obama
Have fun defending a guy who said from the start he would cripple their industry.

eriemom

@ Randy: Is this a quote? Please supply a link or citation.

Randy_Marsh

Eriemom
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H...
Yeah it is a quote from B.Obama
Or there is this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4... Yeah they really really do not like coal.

eriemom

Thank you.
I really don't like coal as an energy source either. Most of the anthracite has been mined. Our miners are taking bituminous now, which is less energy efficient. The cost of mining it has gone up like everything else, yet it produces less heat. To produce electricity more needs to be used.

Natural gas is more energy dense and burns cleaner. Right now it is also cheaper, so electricity producers are moving to natural gas as an energy source. This is why electricity prices for consumers have not increased as much as other energy sources.

Our capitalism Ponzi is funny like that.

Riskkbreaker

Wait, what?

Randy_Marsh

Eriemom
Obama does not like Nat-Gas either. He could not get full cap and trade so he is using the EPA to kill it as well. Give him more time and his EPA guys a free hand and you will see ALL energy skyrocket. He is side stepping congress once again with the EPA and people who live in energy producing areas will suffer. Obama spent 90 billion on "Green" energy 21 billion on failed programs yet spends nothing to clean up the energy that is readily avalible.
http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2... I know if i lived in a coal producing area i sure would not vote for him.

reese

Randy,

I am wondering if you actually read the article you referenced in your post and the article referenced in your reference to support the first referenced article.

Neither support your statements.

It says that Solyndra defaulted on $528 million of Federal Stimulus money. Two other companies defaulted on their loans. “Beacon Power received $39 million in federal funds, with the government recovering all but $8 million of that. Abound Solar’s collapse will cost the taxpayers as much as $68 million. Together, the three failed companies cost the government about $575 million.”
“But, in creating the program, which has to date issued $34.5 billion in loans, Congress set aside $2.4 billion to cover losses, so the loan defaults are a relatively small proportion of the overall portfolio. These defaulted loans account for 24% of the amount set aside by Congress to cover losses. It also equals less than 2% of the $34.5 billion in loans that have actually been issued. This looks like a far cry from half that Romney claims.
“… the Solyndra grant process began under the George W. Bush administration, and it received bipartisan Congressional and lobbying support.”
These quotes come from the article referenced by Randy in his post and from the article referenced in the article referenced by Randy.

Randy_Marsh

Reese
The point was everything was given to the "Green" Industry and nothing done to help the fossil fuel industry. They have been penalized for the industry they are in and instead of the gov helping to improve they are piling more regulations on them while funneling money to camapign donors who anyone who reads anything already knows cannot compete with china. The penaltys will be passed onto the consumer *Us* as the admin does not like fossil fuels. Where is our bailout?

buckeye15

Really Randy? Really? Nothing was done to help the fossil fuel industry? Maybe you should research that. Here is a little perspective from a conservative publication:

http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs...

Randy_Marsh

I should have clarified it. The same industrys he has vowed to bankrupt and the purpose of this page. Namely Coal and natural Gas. Will you be so happy when over half your paycheck is paying for electricity and the other half buying electricity for others who get vouchers?

reese

Randy,

Today’s awards are part of a more than $5 billion investment strategy by the Obama Administration in clean coal technologies and R&D. This strategy, which has attracted over $10 billion in additional private capital investment, is designed to accelerate commercial deployment of clean coal technologies – particularly carbon capture and storage (CCS) – and to position the United States as a leader in the global clean energy race.

http://energy.gov/obama-administ...

eriemom

Why would an old well financed industry, like petroleum need subsidies? They are very profitable and had they done the R & D, and updated their processes over time, instead of paying for lobbyists, we wouldn't be listening to them whine.

Furthermore, why do we want to compete with China's environmental issues?

Riskkbreaker

Why does this not surprise me (that an Obama supporter doesn't yet know, after almost 4 years, everything their candidate is doing)?

coasterfan

Oh, don't do that. Conservatives don't like it when they're asked to provide independent verification for anything.

DGMutley

Why are most Republicans so intent on maintaining the status quo with air pollution? It kills people. It costs us billions. We want jobs but most Republicans consistently shoot down spending money for the technology to make coal a viable energy resource. China will do it and then we'll pay for their technology.

eriemom

Or we would develop the technology and China would just steal it.

Darkhorse

It is insane for you to say China will do it. They have their own people mining sulpher from volcanos and only wearing paper masks. Their life expectancy is only 30 years. China is the worst polluting country in the world with a population over 1 billion. They just treat their people as servants and use these foul methods as a form of euthanasia. You really believe they will be or are concerned about pollution?

The New World Czar

Brown's dislike for heavy industry isn't new. He helped chase an asphalt plant out of Lorain over a decade ago, not that anyone would want to report it.

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