The War On Coal In Ohio

With Ohio being such a key swing state, it may have seemed strange that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigned yesterday in what seems like the middle of nowhere in Beallsville in eastern Ohio.

But it’s all part of the latest in the “war on coal” in Ohio.

For months, TV watchers in Ohio have seen ads from the political action committee the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity talking up coal jobs and blasting President Obama.

States that don’t rely on coal pay nearly 70 percent more for their electricity than states that do. So why does this administration and their EPA continue to impose heavy-handed regulations on coal?

A week ago, the Obama campaign weighed in with a radio ad praising the President’s record on coal. It includes the claims that coal jobs are up 10 percent and that a $5 billion investment in clean coal technology is one of the largest investments ever. The ad also blasts Romney for misrepresenting Obama when it comes to coal – and then hit harder:

But here’s what Romney said in 2003 at a press conference in front of a coal plant: ‘I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people. And that plant kills people.’” So when it comes to coal, ask yourself: who’s been honest, and who’s playing politics?

Some environmentalists and progressive groups were angered by that ad, and say Obama shouldn’t be criticizing Romney for saying “true things about coal.” There’s now an online petition asking the President to pull the ad.

But mine workers seem to be caught in the middle.

The United Mine Workers, the 105,000 member union that endorsed Obama in 2008, appears poised to make no endorsement in this presidential campaign. But the AFL-CIO, of which the UMWA is a part, is sending out mailers in coal country.

Those mailers feature AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, a former coal miner who lost his father to black lung disease, saying that “we can’t afford people like Mitt Romney who are putting corporate profits before worker health and safety.”

Then just last Friday, a coal plant in Brilliant in extreme eastern Ohio closed down and 56 workers were laid off. Mine owner and Republican donor Robert Murray has very publicly laid the blame for the shutdown squarely on President Obama – including in an interview with an eastern Ohio TV station, posted on Youtube by the Republican Party.

Doesn’t make any difference whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, but not Obama. I’m twice over the largest employer in this area. And I know I can’t keep these jobs here.

And then there’s Romney campaign stop at another coal plant owned by Murray Energy. The Republican spoke with dozens of hard-hatted mine workers behind him and told him Robert Murray himself had played him the Obama radio ad.

I just scratched my head. He talks about how wonderful it is, and how we’re adding jobs in the coal industry and producing more coal. And I thought, how in the world can you go out there and just tell people things that aren’t true?

Romney also paraphrased another GOP ad, in which Obama says that if a company builds a new coal plant it will “go bankrupt,” and noted that Vice President Joe Biden said that “coal is more dangerous than terrorists.”

In 2008, Ohio’s coal country was split in its presidential vote. Romney notes that to win Ohio, Obama has to win eastern Ohio. But so does Romney – he nearly lost the March primary to Rick Santorum, primarily because of Santorum’s strong showing in eastern Ohio.

  • Stampers

    inquiring minds want to know…….what is the WOSU position??

    • Kitts

      As the reporter, are they not supposed to report the facts and remain impartial? I think that today people have forgotten the intended role of the press.

    • Kitts

      As the reporter, are they not supposed to report the facts and remain impartial? I think that today people have forgotten the intended role of the press.

  • heeltotoe

    Robert Murray laid off workers to make a polical message. The US Chamber and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce are spending millions for Romney. It looks like Romney has made some huge guarantees to these folks. BTW, it is estimated that american businesses anre setting on 3 trillion in cash, I wonder why they are not taking care of their shareholders???