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.




You would want one in your town?


Not to worry about coal; the Chinese will buy it for their manufacturers.

The Employment Prevention Agency (EPA) was established in 1970 and the decades long decline of U.S. heavy manufacturing can be directly correlated.

Sen. Brown majored in Russian studies; his knowledge of Bolshevism helped to teach him how to destroy capitalism and lead the U.S. toward socialism.


Are you serious? Why is it that everyone who doesn't agree with Tea Party ideals is a Socialist (if they are a Democrat) or RINO if they are a Republican? Socialist, of course, is Tea-Party-speak for Communist, which is funny, because most of them couldn't tell you the Difference between the two. Why is it that those on the extreme fringe of reality (tea party folks) and extreme fringe of society are so blissfully unaware that they are on the fringe?


How is socialism "Tea Party speak" for communism? Cite an example where someone in the Tea Party spoke of the definition of communism and labeled it as socialism. No credibility can be given until then.
I find that last part disingenuous. One might question, in a mostly dumbed-down and desensitized society, the qualifiers for being labeled fringe nowadays.


So, let me make sure that I understand your statement. You are blaming the EPA for manufacturers moving production to China? And labor cost have no bearing?



The Obama Admin. relaxed pollution regs. so that a private equity firm would buy a Philadelphia refinery that was scheduled for closing.

It doesn't look good for gas prices to rise when he wants so bad to be re-elected.

Hope and Change has become: CASH & PRIZES.


I just bought gas in Toledo today for $3.34, which would be the lowest in many months for me. Unemployment went down in September by a whopping 3/10 of a percent, even though more people joined the work force. Very very amusing hearing Republicans trying to spin obvious GOOD news into something that will help Romney. Good luck with that.

Darwin's choice

So, thinking back, did you ever consider being happy to "only" pay $3.34 for a gallon of gas? Isn't it great!


@ eriemom:

Nat-gas is only "cheaper" due to fracking, which the enviro-nuts want to stop.

Hypocrisy or just plain ignorance?

Canada has over 400 gas and oil wells in and around Lake Erie. They have been drilling for 50 yrs.

Why isn't OH drilling while providing jobs and tax revenue????


Yeah, Romney wants those 200,000 jobs fracking will provide, nevermind making Ohio a wasteland. I want those 200,000 jobs too but I don't want Ohio becoming a wasteland.


Good point, Mutley. Republicans only care about the future with certain select economic issues. When it comes to helping protect our environment, providing clean water and a safe food supply for today and the future, they could care less.


Maybe they are in the loop about the capability of Plasma Arc reactors to reverse the damage that has been done..and perhaps they have insider info that those reactors will be employed soon (once religious extremism is in check).
Perhaps they are more concerned with preserving the American Way in the face of constant attempts by the Left to "transform" America.


Keep writing the same misleading statements Smith. I have already corrected you. Just because you keep writing it doen't make it any truer.


@ DGMutley:

Based on the 2010 U.S. Census; OH IS becoming a "wasteland". People are leaving looking for employment opportunities elsewhere.

Get into the present: Fracking in 2012 is NOT your grandfather's fracking. There are many environmental controls.

So are Ontario and PA becoming "wastelands"?????


Oh Winnie, go frack yourself! lol!


I'm not against fracking; I'm all for it. 200,000 jobs is a lot of wells almost instantaneously. I just want safeguards in place to prevent Ohio from becoming a wasteland.


There lies the rub, Obama and his admin does not like fossil fuels at all and would rather either make them too costly for the middle class so we will all push for the only remaining alternetive "Green" energy or Cause them to all fold up shop due to being to costly to run. Either way using the EPA regulators to bash the fossil fuel guys whils making life unbearable for the middle class till we fork of billions more to his friends who gave tons to his campaign and pandering to those fine treehuggers that think everyone should live in caves and eat wild berries and weeds for substinence isnt good for normal americans.


The problem:

U.S. states fail to adequately monitor hydraulic fracturing and use outdated fines that are inadequate to deter violations, an environmental group said as drillers back state rather federal oversight.

Pennsylvania and Ohio each didn’t inspect 91 percent of active oil and gas wells in 2010, Washington-based Earthworks said today in a report. In New Mexico, the top fine of $1,000 per day for violations has been in place for more than 75 years.


When those fine,udating the refinerys to conform to ever increasing standards and a obvious hatred for fossil fuels by the admin cost get passed onto to the normal consumer do we blame the producers or the admin for the middle class who is already hurting getting bashed some more because of energy cost? The admin is flopping on it because it is campaign season, But after all that has been said and done before do you really trust them to keep their stance after the election when there are no more incentives to keep the prices low? The only thing that has kept the present admin in check is the re-election. Without that it will be a no holds bar all out assault on energy. He said it himself. I do not blame the people who work for the coal industry for being anti Obama, Can you?


I do not blame the scientists/climatologists who say that we have passed the tipping point, as far as being able to stop global warming, do you?


As to what is causing the warming the debate continues on, Maybe if you gave all your money to Al Gore he could save you Coaster. HA!


Nah, I think Obama would just rather phase in cleaner forms of energy. As far as EPA crackdowns, They don't have to look far with things like the BP Oil spill, which of course, is a Poster Child for why government regulation/oversight are needed.


So by bankrupting other industries, Causing energy cost to sky rocket, Making the middleclass struggle more and throwing our children into more debt to fund companys that go bankrupt after 6 months Obama is going to help? With friends like that who needs enemys.
BTW if you look into it the oil spill would have been cleaned up much sooner if the admin would have accepted help from over seas, Instead they dumped Corexit into the water because they care about the enviorment. HA!


@ Randy: We would not now have an electric grid, telephone service, or a fiber optics net in place if it weren't for this kind of government subsidized loans. The research for fracking was also done with government grants over about 10 years.


For the leader of the country to come out and say he will bankrupt certain industries seems a little weird don't you think? Seriously, Think about that for a minute. Who will pay for the higher cost of energy, YOU will. You will notice in the quote of Obama i posted it included Natural Gas. YOU along with everyone else will end up paying more for these policys, Can you really afford it?
As for blaming Global warming souly on my truck, Please tell the artic to quit releasing methane


randy - say it ain't so!!! prez o would not increase the cost of ANYTHING on the middle and low income. he promised. he really did. i saw it on tv. lmao. prez o doesn't care about anything or anyone unless they can help get him re-elected.


Obama's Energy policy is a joke. I hear no talk of Plasma Arc Reactors to clean up our waste sites. I hear no talk of Electromagnetism being harnessed at all. He is a puppet, period.
Pushing Solar and Wind is backwards progress. If we are not going to harness Electromagnetism, we are going to come up short everytime.


I agree. As long as Lake Erie is protected and regulations are maintained. We also need to push for methane capture at these sites.


WOW, LOTS of Divergence here!


There is a lot of convergence here too. It's just that some are trying to make a political statement from untrue rhetoric.