RNC Attacks Obama for “War on Coal”
The RNC launched a research release today, attacking President Obama for killing coal jobs. Using his own words against him, by taking part of a phrase from his earlier gaffe about the private sector, the RNC release says his plan to bankrupt and block coal “is doing fine.”
The release targets eight states, including Pennsylvania, for ways that Obama’s energy policies have negatively affected jobs and economic growth for each of the states.
One of the excerpts from the fact sheet cites a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story from March about the closure of coal-fired power plants in the area run by GenOn Energy Inc., which said economic factors and government regulations requiring pollution control equipment cut too deeply into profits to allow for further operation.
“GenOn Energy Inc. will shut down eight power plants over the next three years, three of them old, coal-burning power plants in Western Pennsylvania: at Elrama in northern Washington County, Shawville in Clearfield County and near New Castle in Lawrence County.”
The release also highlights the lack of union support for Obama amongst Democratic union coal miners, as well as knocking the President for unfavorable energy policies and regulations.
Despite the RNC’s research release, the Obama Administration touts continued growth in the coal industry – including employment growth of more than 9 percent in Pennsylvania since Obama took office.
“In 2008, there were an average of 7,829 employees working in underground mines, surface operations and coal mills and prep plants in Pennsylvania,” according to a fact check by the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
“In the first half of 2012, there were an average of 8,567 employees working in underground mines, surface operations or mills and prep plants in Pennsylvania.”
In contrast to the RNC release, the AFL-CIO launched a mailer in coal regions of Ohio and Pennsylvania, claiming Romney’s policies would make life more difficult on coal miner’s health and safety.
“I worked in the mines. And so did my father until he died of black lung disease. I keep his helmet in my office so I’ll never forget why we need elected leaders who stand up for people who wear helmets every day. That’s why we can’t afford people like Mitt Romney who are putting corporate profits before worker health and safety,” said Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President.
“Romney doesn’t care about American workers. He supported anti-worker attacks on collective bargaining rights and plans to eliminate Medicare and Social Security as we know it. Now he supports the Republican Congressional budget that prevents protections for mine workers, putting them at risk for black lung disease and other serious injury.”
Following West Virginia’s May primary, in which the President lost 42 percent of the Democratic primary vote to a felon who didn’t actually run a campaign, the GOP leapt on him and blamed his poor performance as a result of his stance on coal.
Couple that with the fact that his website touting an “all-of-the-above” energy policy originally had a visually appealing graph that lacked coal. Obama’s site was then updated, but the omission did not go unnoticed.
Coal has been and will continue to be an issue not only in the Presidential election, but for other row offices in the state – and especially for U.S. congressional races and state legislature in the Marcellus Shale drilling regions, where energy policy in general rules the discourse.
The issue is of particular consequence in the Senate race between Sen. Bob Casey and his challenger, coal miner and coal mine owner Tom Smith.
A vote by Casey against a resolution of disapproval in June, which would have prevented the EPA from implementing the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards rule (MATS) sparked a press release war between the two – with Casey saying he sided with community safety over the economic benefits of deregulation, and his opponent saying MATS would drive up prices and produce less reliable power.