Tags: Obama | War | Coal | Victim

Obama’s War on Coal Claims Its First Victim

By Neal Asbury
Thursday, 17 May 2012 08:54 AM Current | Bio | Archive

I have previously addressed Obama’s war on the coal industry. But now it has claimed its first victim: himself.

The United Coal Mine Workers of America, surprising Obama supporters in 2008 by supporting him, are turning their backs on a president and administration that seems committed to putting them out of business.

Despite all the warning signs of his anti-domestic energy positions, Obama still received $884,000 from the oil and gas industry during the 2008 campaign, more than any other lawmaker except his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain.

In hindsight, you can bet that the oil and gas industry wish they had their money back.

According to reports, Cecil Roberts, president of the United Coal Miners of America union, went on a radio show recently and said “The way Mr. Obama’s administration has treated the coal industry is like the way Navy SEALs’ killed Osama bin Laden.”

This doesn’t sound like a man who will be urging his members to work with the Obama campaign this year.

If that doesn’t sound bad enough, in the West Virginia Democratic presidential primary for president, over 40 percent cast their votes for a convicted felon serving a prison sentence in Texas rather than support Obama.

If West Virginia doesn’t come out for Obama, he probably won’t get much support either from coal-producing states like Ohio and Virginia – important swing states. However, the problem runs deeper than just coal states. Obama could actually lose the Democratic primary in Arkansas as a result of another protest vote.

Coal is an extremely important energy source and will remain so. Some 23 percent of our primary energy needs are met by coal and 49 percent of our electricity is generated from coal. About 70 percent of world steel production depends on coal. Coal is the world's most abundant and widely distributed fossil fuel source. The International Energy Agency expects a 43 percent increase in its use from 2000 to 2020.

The coal industry, lead by American entrepreneurs and inventers, is making impressive inroads in reducing harmful emissions. This includes: Coal cleaning by 'washing' to reduce emissions of ash and sulfur dioxide when coal is burned; Electrostatic precipitators and fabric filters can remove 99 percent of the fly ash from the flue gases; Flue gas desulfurization that reduces the output of sulfur dioxide to the atmosphere by up to 97 percent; and low-NOx burners allow coal-fired plants to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 40 percent.

That may explain why 221 members of Congress released a letter to the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, asking him to allow the coal industry to emit greenhouse pollution without any limits.

Claiming the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule on greenhouse gas pollution from new and modified coal-fired power plants needs to be killed because of the “devastating impact it will have on jobs and the nation’s economy.”

What this boils down to is Obama’s ill-conceived use of the EPA as a hammer to attack the coal industry is a gift to the Republican Party.

Data suggests that the coal industry will give more money to the Republican Party this year than in any election since 1990. A good sign since Republican candidates have historically received 75 percent of oil and gas industry campaign donations.

Is it any wonder? How can any sane candidate declare war on an industry that generates $16 billion to the American economy through exports and directly and indirectly employs around 1.5 million American workers?

It is estimated that 25 percent of coal mines will close if Obama’s EPA plans are enacted.

West Virginia Republican candidate Bill Maloney recently said: "Last year at this time, we were looking for 2,000 coal miners to go to work. Now there's 2,000 laid off. We've got six coal-fired power plants that are being shut. We're losing our competitive edge, and it's wrong."

Goodbye U.S. jobs, goodbye U.S. energy independence.

Should we be surprised by this administration’s actions? Not if you were paying attention to Obama’s days as a Senator, when during a 2008 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, he is quoted as saying: “If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them.”

Not only is the Obama administration waging war on the coal industry on one front, but a second front has been active for some time.

According to the “On the Issues” fact checking site, the Obama administration is making a third attempt at stripping subsidies from the oil industry. “Back when fellow Democrats formed the House and Senate majorities, he sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request.

He called again to end such tax breaks in last year's State of the Union speech. And he's now doing it again, despite facing a wall of opposition from Republicans who want to spur domestic oil and gas production and oppose tax increases generally.”

In the early days of coal mining a canary went into the mines to warn of potential toxic fumes. The canary is chirping in the Obama re-election mine, but he’s ignoring the signs that his toxic energy plan is losing the American people, his own party, and ultimately his re-election.

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