08.14.2012 0

Romney fights back against Obama’s ‘War on Coal’

Mitt Romney is fighting back against Obama’s ‘War on Coal.’ In a campaign stop in Ohio today, Romney is highlighting the steps that the Obama administration has taken to cripple the coal industry:

In a morning appearance outside an eastern Ohio mine after his campaign bus rolls into the state, the Republican presidential candidate plans to discuss a long-simmering coal country gripe about congressional Democrats and the White House. President Barack Obama, says Romney as well as other Republicans, is using a misguided regulatory and environmental crusade to take the jobs of coal miners in the hills and valleys near the Ohio River.

The Century Mine in Beallsville is in a slice of Appalachia whose culture is more akin to neighboring West Virginia and rural Pennsylvania than to urban islands like Cleveland and Toledo. Yet the Century Mine is owned by a subsidiary of Pepper Pike-based Murray Energy Corp. The parent company’s colorful chief executive, Robert Murray, has a mistrust of Washington that’s visceral.

“Obama’s War on Coal will cause dramatically decreased coal production, destroy thousands of coal-related jobs, and cause electricity rates to skyrocket,” Murray Energy said in a statement to The Plain Dealer on Monday,

The claim about skyrocketing rates has been disputed by fact-checkers who say the costs for consumers would be far more moderate. And Murray is known for tangling with institutions he distrusts. He became famous after a collapse at the Crandall Mine in Utah, which his company co-owned, killed six miners in 2007. Murray was on the scene constantly and disputed claims about safety violations, although his company was ultimately fined.

But his complaints about Democratic regulations are shared by many in the industry, and by Romney. So is the fear of job losses as power plants that make electricity — a major customer of the coal mines — plan to reduce their reliance on coal, considered a dirty, polluting source of energy unless the coal emissions are run through an expensive scrubbing process.

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