Wall Street Journal: An Obama War on Coal?
May 14, 2012
Posted by Katie Brown Katie_Brown@epw.senate.gov
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Wall Street Journal
An Obama War on Coal?
By STEPHEN MOORE
May 14, 2012
Recent news that President Obama's re-election web page on energy policy didn't include coal on the list of "all of the above" energy sources sparked outrage in coal-producing states like Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The website had listed oil, natural gas, bio-fuels, wind, solar power and nuclear power but omitted coal, a fossil fuel that left-wing environmental groups despise.
After criticism from members of Congress and conservative bloggers, the Obama campaign put "clean coal" back on the "all of the above" energy list. The Obama administration now says that coal is an "essential" part of the administration's energy strategy. Coal accounts for well over one-third of electricity production in most states, and coal mining is a major source of union jobs. Even after the Obama campaign put clean coal back on the list, the attacks and controversy live on, and there is now speculation that Mr. Obama may have done his campaign real damage in battle ground states like Virginia and Ohio.
The original decision to leave coal off of the list was exposed by Ed Whitfield, the Republican congressman from Kentucky, who called it a "glaring omission" and relentlessly attacked the Obama campaign for putting coal jobs at risk. Mr. Whitfield has made the case that Mr. Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency have been engaged in a "war on coal." He remains "skeptical" that Obama will "do anything to draw on this resource" and continues to fume at new EPA regulations that threaten to put many coal-burning fire plants out of business.
The Obama campaign gaffe, if it was one, has come at the worst possible time for the president. Republicans in the Senate have been ridiculing his "none of the above" energy strategy. They point to the decision not to build the Keystone pipeline; to the reduction in Interior Department leases for oil and natural gas drilling; to Solyndra-type scandals with renewable energy grants; and to high gas prices.
Even comedian Jay Leno has gotten into the act, recently joking that when Mr. Obama talks about what he is doing to lower gas prices, it is "the shortest speech he's ever given." Mr. Obama's energy policies are increasingly seen as a failure both in terms of increasing production and reducing prices, and the latest controversy over coal only adds to that perception.