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Dems Have Real Frustration With Obama War on Coal
May 14, 2012

Posted by Katie Brown Katie_Brown@epw.senate.gov

  Dems Have "Real Frustration" With Obama War on Coal

Obama 2008 Supporter Asks:

"How do you take coal miners' money and say let's use it politically to support someone whose EPA has pretty much said, 'You're done'?"

Inhofe EPW News Roundup

Obama War on Coal:

- Cecil Roberts, the president of the United Mine Workers of America, traveled the country for Barack Obama four years ago. He hoped to persuade skeptical working-class white voters in places like southwestern Virginia and southern Ohio to vote for an African-American with an unusual name. Last month, Mr. Roberts went on a West Virginia radio show with a different message. He compared the way Mr. Obama's administration has treated the coal industry to the Navy SEALs' killing of Osama bin Laden. He now says the union might choose not to endorse Mr. Obama and sit out the election instead. Mr. Roberts's transformation suggests larger problems for Mr. Obama in the coal-producing regions of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia, all swing states. The shift is driven largely by anger over Environmental Protection Agency regulations-rules the coal industry says will make it so expensive to operate coal-fired power plants that no more will be built. Mr. Roberts and his union worry the result will be lower demand for coal as electricity-generating capacity shifts away from the fuel. "We've been placed in a horrendous position here," Mr. Roberts said in an interview. "How do you take coal miners' money and say let's use it politically to support someone whose EPA has pretty much said, 'You're done'?" Danger signs for Mr. Obama appeared as recently as Tuesday, when more than 40% of voters in West Virginia's Democratic primary cast their ballots for a felon in prison in Texas rather than for the president. Democrats said the result reflected anger at Mr. Obama's energy policy. WSJ, Trouble in Coal Country for Obama May 11, 2012

-  Mr. Obama isn't expected to contest West Virginia, which didn't back him in 2008. Still, the state has economic and cultural similarities to its politically competitive neighbors. In several of its coal counties, the federal inmate beat Mr. Obama outright. "A lot of folks here have real frustration with this administration's stance on coal and energy," said Larry Puccio, the Democratic Party chairman in West Virginia, explaining Tuesday's election results. "They are frustrated and they are upset, and they wanted to send Obama a message." WSJ, Trouble in Coal Country for Obama May 11, 2012

- In the 2008 election, Vice President Joe Biden admitted that Obama-Biden platform did not support coal plants in America. Biden was asked, "Wind and solar are flourishing here in Ohio, so why are you supporting clean coal?" The future vice president responded: "We're not supporting clean coal. Guess what, China is building two every week. Two dirty coal plants. And it's polluting the United States, it's causing people to die." The questioner followed up, "So will you support wind and solar technologies?" Absolutely," Biden said. "Before anyone did. The first guy to introduce a global warming bill was me, 22 years ago. The first guy to support solar energy was me, 26 years ago, it came out of Delaware. But guess what? China's going to burn 300 years of bad coal unless we figure out how to clean their coal up because it's going to ruin your lungs and there's nothing we can do about it. No coal plants here in America. Build them, if they are going to build them over there, make them clean, because they're killing you." Before this exchange, however, in 2007, Biden admitted that his biggest concern is "Air that has too much coal in it." Biden ranked coal ahead of terrorism in terms what poses the greatest threat to Americans. Weekly Standard, Obama-Biden Used Not to Support Coal, May 11, 2012

Its Not Just Coal... War on Natural Gas:

- The Sierra Club is intensifying its natural-gas reform campaign and renaming it "Beyond Gas," a spin-off of its decade-old "Beyond Coal" campaign seeking the phaseout of coal-fired power plants. "As we push to retire coal plants, we're going to work to make sure we're not simultaneously switching to natural-gas infrastructure," Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune told National Journal in an interview on Wednesday. "And we're going to be preventing new gas plants from being built wherever we can." The name for the campaign was actually decided about two weeks ago but hasn't yet appeared prominently on the group's website, Brune said. "Beyond Gas" represents a significant expansion of the group's ongoing efforts against increased natural-gas production and will be integrated with campaigns against the other major fossil fuels, oil and coal. The stronger anti-gas push is "in large part due to the emerging reality that the climate impact of gas is much worse than we thought, and the availability of renewables is much better than we thought," Brune said. National Journal, War on Natural Gas About TO Escalat, May 3, 2012

- Mr. Armendariz's expertise-take note-was working with groups like the Environmental Defense Fund and "Downwinders at Risk" against hydraulic fracturing. Among his achievements: a cameo appearance in "Gasland," the anti-drilling propaganda film, as well as authoring a 2009 study making the wild claim that gas drilling was the cause of more air pollution in Dallas than even cars. In other words, he was a perfect general for Mr. Obama's war against natural gas. The White House is hostile to fossil fuels, yet it has been unable to get Congress or the public to act. So it has unleashed the EPA to crack down on those industries. The bonanza in natural gas has nonetheless been tricky for the feds, since hydraulic fracturing regulation is technically left to the states. The agency's solution has been to invent enforcement actions out of existing federal law to harass drillers.  Mr. Armendariz was on the front lines. By early 2010, the EPA boss was already making his "crucify them" comments at a public-meeting-cum-activist-rally in Dish, Texas. At this gathering, Mr. Armendariz also bragged that one of his "really special moments" had been getting the overall chief of EPA enforcement, Cynthia Giles, to watch "Gasland." He lamented that he did not have a "Way of Life Act" that he could enforce-to deal with the "truck traffic," "noise," "water use" and "waste pits" associated with natural-gas drilling. Though he reminds the crowd that the laws he can use, like the Clean Water Act, aren't exactly "toothless." WSJ, The 'Crucify Them' Presidency, May 3, 2012

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