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

Randy_Marsh

Untrue rhetoric? http://townhall.com/tipsheet/hel...
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/20...
Obama said it, Now its happening. How is it untrue?

The Big Dog's back

Typical Repub, measures everything in dollars and cents. If you die from air pollution and water pollution, dollars and cents don't mean squat.

Randy_Marsh

Big dog
Thats interesting, When commoditys get too much to afford can you grow a garden or hunt for your food or will you rely on bread lines and gov handouts till they too disappear from lack of funding? I am sure you will starve long before i freeze or strangle from the lack of enviorment.

Don S

There is a plan in place that the energy companies don't want the public to know. Natural Gas will be the bridge fuel to the hydrogen fuel systems of the future. But to get to the hydrogen future, 'clean' coal, nucular, solar, and wind power will be used. Clean coal means, that the coal emmitions will have to be cleaned to EPA requirments. EPA regulations have been fought against by the coal and energy companys, as being too costly. So some of the problems have to be their responsability and work with the EPA to solve them. Why don't the coal industry find a way to turn coal into a cleaner form of energy, like liquify it as the Germans did in WW II. Oh, I'm sorry, that would take profits out of coal CEO's pockets. So, get used to it, that hydrogen is going to be the energy source in the future, but it will take natural gas, as a bridge fuel to get there.

Riskkbreaker

Harnessing Electromagnetism is the future. Electromagnetism is the dominant force throughout the Universe. Electromagnetism is the only way to a Free Energy society (and world).
Solar, Wind, Nuclear, Oil, "Clean Coal," Hydrogen, etc. etc..all zero sum games.

Nikola Tesla: "Throughout space there is energy. Is this energy static or kinetic! If static our hopes are in vain; if kinetic — and this we know it is, for certain — then it is a mere question of time when men will succeed in attaching their machinery to the very wheelwork of nature."

KnuckleDragger

To all you liberal subscribers to the Global Warming hoax. A new study has come out that shows global warming actually ended almost 16 yrs ago in 1997 and for the 40 yrs prior to the period that we supposedly had global warming, 1980-1996, temperature had been stable or declining. Sort of lets the air of your balloon, huh?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/scien...

buckeye15

Seriously dude? Trusting the Daily Mail to interpret info from Judith Curry is like trusting your kids with Jerry Sandusky. Get real.

KnuckleDragger

Really dude? Shall I post the 20 or so other sites that show the same data? Just because liberals have trouble interpreting complex science data, doesn't mean the rest of us do. Instead of looking at who presented the data, just look at the data itself. Or is your peabrain to small to wrap itself around it? By the way this data was collected by the British government.

buckeye15

Yes, could you please post more? This tiny little liberal peabrain needs to see lots and lots of flawed information to finally believe it.

EZOB

Knuckledragger,
Your information is correct on glo bal warming. You have to excuse a certain group for not believing the truth, after all, all they have heard for the last four years is lies. They can't even get the name-calling correct. There is no plan for the future and not a positive record in the past. INJEST THIS, I hated Bush but now I am spending over $200.00 in gas than when Bush was in office. So if I am to assume that Bush was a rich Texas oil TYCOON, what am I to assume about O'Bama? Rich Arab Oil Tycoon?

lmile61

Should be changed new one so will save natural things..
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KURTje

You Log Cabin Republicans need to calm down.

ptech38

Now its proved by the US people so need to discuss more on this issue and Obama will do best again.
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lmile61

He did wrong comment on Obama and he proved that he can handle the American carefully and help to give jobs in coming years.
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tuneseo

Many opposite's are always try to show weakness and his issue but people also know very well about all these events.
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raok7

Great work in America.Indian political leader should learn many good things from American but they are busy in doing corruption in all sector.
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