President Barack Obama’s campaign is airing a radio commercial in rural counties along the Ohio River, including Columbiana County, criticizing Republican Mitt Romney’s record on coal.
The commercial, which began airing Monday, is the first ad by the Democratic president’s campaign against Romney on coal, an important issue in the state. About 85 percent of the state’s energy comes from coal.
The commercial comes while Obama continues to face scrutiny for opposing existing “dirty-coal” plants.
The commercial states that with Obama as president, Ohio coal jobs have increased by 10 percent, and Ohio coal production increased 7 percent. Also, Obama has invested $5 billion in federal funds to create the next generation of coal-fired power plants, the ad states.
“When it helps Mr. Romney politically to be an environmentalist when running for governor of Massachusetts, he declared coal-power plants kill people and enforced strict regulations without compromise,” said Jessica Kershaw, an Obama campaign spokeswoman. “His hard-line stance that [eliminated] local jobs at the time echoes the years he spent killing and outsourcing jobs as a Bain executive.”
Kershaw is referring to Romney’s statement in 2003, just before he became governor of Massachusetts, that a coal-fired plant in Salem Harbor in that state needed to be closed because “that plant kills people.” The statement is in the commercial.
Romney’s campaign said he was referring specifically to that plant, one of the oldest in the state that was not in compliance with state environmental laws, and not the entire coal industry.
Christopher Maloney, a Romney campaign spokesman, said, “President Obama’s policies have devastated the coal industry, and we are seeing the results firsthand. The president’s burdensome regulations have threatened coal operations in Ohio and jeopardized thousands of jobs throughout the coal industry.”
Also Monday, Mike Carey, chairman of the Ohio Coal Association, said Obama “certainly is not” a supporter of the American coal industry.
OhioAmerican Energy announced last week it was closing a coal facility in Jefferson County. A company statement blamed regulatory actions by Obama and his appointees as the “entire reason” the plant is closing.
Romney told The Vindicator in June that Obama is looking to end the use of coal for energy, and that coal regulations have “become more and more labyrinthian, more difficult for coal to be mined and almost impossible to be used.”