POLITICS

Romney’s new Pennsylvania ad hits Obama for ‘crushing’ coal industry

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

Mitt Romney is going on offense in Pennsylvania, hitting President Obama in a traditionally-Democratic state by reminding voters that his policies have hurt the coal industry there.

The ad opens with video of Obama saying, in 2008, that “if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can – it’s just that it will bankrupt them” before telling voters that “22 Pennsylvania Coal Units Announced They Will Close Or Convert.”

Coal companies haven’t been shy about blaming Obama and his Environmental Protection Agency for their troubles. “[T]he escalating costs and uncertainty generated by recently advanced EPA regulations and interpretations have created a challenging business climate for the entire coal industry,” PBS Coals Inc. President and CEO D. Lynn Shank said in a statement announcing that 228 workers were being laid off.

A mine manager in the company also faulted Obama for waging a  “war on coal seeking to destroy the coal industry and the jobs of our own employees and the livelihoods of their families.”

To appeal to such voters, the Romney ad closes with his comments in the Denver presidential debate. “I like coal,” Romney said to Obama. “I’m going to make sure we can continue to burn clean coal. People in the coal industry feel like it’s getting crushed by your policies. I want to get America and North America energy independent so we can create those jobs.”

A new memo from Team Romney on it’s prospects in Pennsylvania indicated that such a coal ad might appear. “The western part of the Keystone State has become more conservative (and President Obama’s war on coal is very unpopular there),” the memo noted.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina says that there is no way Pennsylvania votes Republican this year, but they’re “not taking anything for granted” — sending Vice President Joe Biden to the state and purchasing TV time this week.

The Environmental Protection Agency made clear that it does not like coal or coal towns. EPA’s New England Regional Administrator Curt Spaulding said that EPA had adopted a policy towards the coal industry that amounted to saying “we just think those communities should just go away.”

The EPA understands the real-world effect of these policies. “If you go to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and all those places, you have coal communities who depend on coal,” Spaulding said during that same March speech. “It is painful every step of the way.”

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