Policy: Environment & Energy

Morning Examiner: Obama’s war on coal comes to Kentucky

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Less than a week after President Obama declared war on coal by announcing new regulations on existing coal power plants, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes heeded calls from Democrats in Washington to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., next November.

The family business
“I was an underdog, and I’m no stranger to being an underdog,” Grimes said  at a news conference announcing her candidacy Monday. “Make no mistake, members of the media, this due diligence was not reluctance, it was not hesitancy,” Grimes said of her delayed entrance into the race, “but rather a deliberate gathering of all the necessary facts to make a decision that’s not to be taken lightly.”

Grimes is the daughter of well-connected former state Democratic Party Chairman, Jerry Lundergan, who is a longtime ally of Bill and Hilary Clinton. Former-President Clinton has been trying to get Grimes to jump into the race since at least March. She is a relative newcomer to electoral politics, however, having won just one statewide race in 2011.

Obama who?
Just minutes after announcing her candidacy, Grimes was already trying to put as much distance between herself and Democrats in Washington as possible. When asked whether or not she supported Obama’s Affordable Care Act, she responded, “Regardless of the vote that is issued in this race, we cannot change who our president is but we can change who we have in Washington representing Kentuckians.”

Air war already underway
Kentucky is the nation’s third biggest coal producer and the vast majority of its coal goes directly to electricity generation. Thanks to the natural gas boom, and Obama’s existing regulations on new coal plants, the state has already lost thousands of coal jobs in recent years. Obama’s new regulations on existing coal plants will only cause further job losses in the state.

“Just last year, Alison Lundergan Grimes stood proudly at the Democratic National Convention to nominate Barack Obama, who has followed through on his promise to destroy the coal industry,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Rob Collins said in a statement Monday, ‘in essence declared a war on the state of Kentucky and the middle class families who call it home.”

A Republican Super PAC called Kentuckians for Strong Leadership has already spent $300,000 on an ad highlighting Obama’s war on coal, and Grimes’ “secret meetings” with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D- Nev.

Registered Democrats may still outnumber Republicans in the state, but Obama lost Kentucky to Romney by more than 20 points. This is McConnell’s race to lose.

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