Just as the Republican-controlled House of Representatives this week approved a package of bills called the “Stop the War on Coal Act,” Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is releasing a pair of television ads attacking Obama on coal energy.
Romney charges that contrary to Obama campaign promises, the Environmental Protection Agency under Obama’s direction is waging a “war on coal” that will cause dramatic losses of jobs in coal-producing states and the closure of coal-based power plants around the country.
On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported coal producer Alpha National Resources announced it was cutting production by 16 million tons and eliminating 1,200 jobs companywide, including the loss of 400 jobs as a result of immediate mine closings in two battleground states in the presidential election – Pennsylvania and Virginia – as well as in West Virginia, a solidly Republican state.
The layoffs, amounting to nearly one-tenth of Alpha’s workforce, reflect the company’s shift of focus away from thermal coal used in domestic power generation to metallurgical coal used in steelmaking overseas.
An analysis released Tuesday by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, or ACCCE, found 204 coal-fired power units in 25 states will have to close, partly because of regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency that regulate water pollution from coal mining and air pollution from coal burning.
Five states that combined have 103 coal units are scheduled to shut down because of Obama administration restrictions: Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina – four of which are battleground states in the 2012 presidential election.
In May, Yahoo News reported the Obama campaign website added “clean coal” to its list of energy priorities after Republican lawmakers noted the omission and a federal prisoner received about 40 percent of the vote against Obama in the Democratic primary in West Virginia.
Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy Power, was particularly upset about the Obama campaign’s omission of coal in its list of energy priorities.
“Many of us get upset about that because [coal] has a tremendous economic impact on our country, it provides a lot of jobs, and it makes us competitive in the global marketplace because coal is still a valuable resource,” Whitfield told the Wall Street Journal.
See the Romney ad, “Way of Life”:
Through 2013, the EPA plans to implement new rules designed to curb pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Experts estimate that the regulations will cost utilities up to $129 billion and force the retirement of up to 20 percent of the nation’s coal capacity, as reported by the Washington Post.
Given that coal now provides approximately 45 percent of U.S. electric power, the new EPA regulations, characterized as a regulatory “train wreck” by critics, inevitably mean the closing of possibly dozens of electric plants and higher electric bills.
The U.S. is still regarded as “the Saudi Arabia of coal.”
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates the U.S. has 267 billion tons of economically recoverable coal, enough for 240 years at current usage rates.
Even at 200 billion tons of economically recoverable coal, experts estimate that amount of coal could supply more 100 years of electricity to the entire nation, yield a trillion barrels of oil using coal-to-liquid synthetic oil technology, or provide over 2,000 trillion cubic feet of substitute natural gas.
Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who wrote “The Greatest Hoax” about the “global warming conspiracy,” said the decision by the U.S. House this week to approve the “Stop the War on Coal Act” was a good beginning.
“I applaud the bipartisan House passage of the ‘Stop the War on Coal Act,’” Inhofe said. “Over the past four years we have witnessed an unrelenting attack by the Obama administration on American energy production – one that has resulted in lost jobs, higher energy prices, and lessened energy security.
“[The] decisive achievement in the House stands in stark contrast to the stalling and inaction of the Senate. Many of my Senate colleagues have talked at length about unleashing American energy production and reining in the Obama-EPA, but when the opportunity arises to do so they hide behind cover votes. As these senators head home to hit the campaign trail, their record is clear and excuses only go so far: thanks to many of them, the far-left policies of the Obama-EPA remain unchecked and will go forward harming American families with higher energy prices and lost jobs.”