GOP Senate candidates Mandel and Smith blast Obama’s policies on coal in region

By David Skolnick


An executive of a steel-casting company that specializes in energy equipment joined Republican nominees for the U.S. Senate in Ohio and Pennsylvania in blasting the president’s policies on coal.

Michael A. Kamnikar, Ellwood Group Inc.’s senior vice president of marketing and business development, said the federal government under President Barack Obama, a Democrat, has instituted “oppressive regulations championed in the war on coal that spells trouble for business like ours and for domestic energy jobs.”

The Friday press conference with Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, and Tom Smith, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, was at Ellwood Engineering Castings, a subsidiary of the Ellwood Group.

The Hubbard plant employs about 150 and is a few miles from the Pennsylvania border.

The company casts steel for equipment in various energy fields including coal, gas and oil, wind and nuclear, Kamnikar said.

Kamnikar criticized incumbent Democratic senators — Sherrod Brown in Ohio and Bob Casey in Pennsylvania, Mandel’s and Smith’s opponents, respectively — for supporting Obama’s policies that he said impose “unnecessary regulations” on the coal industry.

Mandel said Brown has failed to stand up to the Obama administration and instead supports regulations that make coal mining restrictive. By doing so, Brown is hurting Ohio’s middle class who depend on coal for 85 percent of the state’s electricity, Mandel said, as well as good-paying coal jobs.

“As a United States senator, I’ll always keep that balance between aggressive job creation and common-sense environmental protection,” Mandel said.

In response, Justin Barasky, Brown’s campaign spokesman, said the senator “understands that coal means good-paying jobs for Ohio workers, and will continue standing up to anyone trying to enforce unnecessary rules and regulations on the energy industry.”

He also questioned if Mandel really cares about the middle class and asked him to help protect “Ohio’s manufacturing jobs by joining Sherrod Brown’s effort to stand up to China.”

Coal, Ohio’s top source of energy, is a major campaign issue in the Senate race and the presidential election.

Obama has faced criticism for opposing existing traditional coal plants.

Jessica Kershaw, an Obama campaign spokeswoman, said during the president’s administration, “employment in the coal-mining industry reached a 15-year high last year, with more than 3,000 jobs in Ohio.” She added that the Obama administration “has gone to lengths to make sure regulations work with local circumstances.”

Smith, a former coal company owner and mine worker, sees it differently.

“I’ve felt first-hand the crippling effects of government regulations,” he said.

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