GOP Hopefuls Burn Casey, Obama on Coal
Under President Obama, EPA regulations have stifled job creation and destroyed jobs, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tom Smith and other Pennsylvania Republicans told reporters during a campaign stop in Pittsburgh Wednesday.
During the press conference, held in the courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse, Smith, who owned a coal mining company in Armstrong County, linked his opponent Sen. Bob Casey to the President’s energy policies.
“As the owner of several coal-mining companies, I was on the receiving end of the President’s and Bob Casey’s costly, job-killing regulations,” Smith said.
“I had to wade through a sea of red tape just to run my business, and was forever fearful for the employees and families that depended on our success.”
Smith then called on Casey to support Senate Resolution 37, a bill that would repeal certain EPA regulations deemed overbearing by Senate Republicans. The bill is supported by Sen. Pat Toomey.
Smith said that he took the risk to start a company and it paid off by creating jobs, and that regulations like the EPA’s take away those opportunities.
Senate Resolution 37 prevents the EPA from continuing a new rule known as Utility MACT, which would require coal and oil-fired power plants to install scrubbers and other equipment that would reduce emissions of mercury, nine other hard metals and three acid gases by 91 percent within the next three years.
State environmental protection groups have defended the new emission restrictions, calling them crucial for children’s respiratory health. Earlier this year, PoliticsPA reported that Sierra Club and National Resources Defense Fund included Pennsylvania in their national campaign to promote clean air initiatives for the health of children.
Officials from the groups said coal contains life-threatening pollutants such as mercury, soot and smog that can trigger asthma attacks.
In addition, the Obama administration announced earlier this year that the Clean Air Act of 1990 would expand to include the reduction of mercury emissions. Obama said the new standards would “dramatically reduce” harmful air pollution.
“Because we’re acting, emissions of mercury and other pollutants which cause a range of health problems, including neurological damage in children, will decrease significantly,” Obama said.
“In fact, we estimate we’ll prevent thousands of premature deaths, heart attacks, thousands of cases of asthma in children each year by 2016.”
Washington County Commissioner and Pennsylvania Treasurer Candidate Diana Irey Vaughan joined Smith at the press conference, calling the coal industry a “long-time cornerstone” of the Pennsylvania economy, with Washington County alone profiting $2 billion a year..
“Coal creates wealth in urban and rural areas, it provides employment for workers within the industry and across the supply chain, and coal supports the broader economy and the shops and businesses of what we call in southwestern Pennsylvania ‘Main Street America,’” she said.
Obama’s campaign website indicates his support for clean coal, saying the President has set a 10-year goal “to develop and deploy cost-effective clean coal technology.”
Irey Vaughan added that Obama’s energy initiatives would cost the U.S. 50,000 direct jobs and 250,000 indirect jobs, with southwestern Pennsylvania bearing much of the impact.
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Allegheny) also spoke shortly at the event on behalf of Mitt Romney, saying that as president, Romney would see to it that government and business worked together in a mutually beneficial relationship.
“Governor Romney understands the federal government should be a partner in our prosperity,” Murphy said.
“Not building more barriers, not building more bureaucracies that stop America’s energy independence and hurt America’s families.”