National and state coal groups are blasting Barack Obama today over a recently publicized audio tape of Barack Obama talking coal with the San Franciso Chronicle in January.
The National Mining Association, the West Virginia Coal Association, the Ohio Coal Association, and the Kentucky Coal Association have all criticized the Democratic candidate over a controversial remark about coal power plants, made in a January interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, in which Obama suggests building coal power plants would "bankrupt" energy corporations and investors.
In the tape, Obama outlines his cap-and-trade energy plan, which caps emissions for corporations and allows for the trade and auction of credits to emit greenhouse gasses.
The idea of such plans, also supported by John McCain, is to provide disincentives for pollution, and in the Chronicle interview Obama used coal power plants as an example of what would be discouraged: "If somebody wants to build a coal power plant, they can, it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted."
Coal groups have reacted forcefully to the tape, which was reported today by a Charleston, W.Va. TV station to have "resurfaced" Sunday. The tape was featured yesterday on right-leaning media blog Newsbusters; it has been a lead story on the Drudge Report this morning.
"Bankrupting the coal industry would be tantamount to bankrupting the American economy. Coal generates half of our nation s electricity, employs hundreds of thousands of Americans and provides millions of dollars in revenue to coal states," National Mining Association President and CEO Hal Quinn said today.
"Destroying the coal industry would break America s energy backbone. It would raise the cost of energy for households and businesses throughout the country and create massive job losses. We trust the candidates understand this and do not believe that destroying the coal industry is part of the change we need."
The Kentucky Coal Association's website features a large headline reading "Obama says he will bankrupt the Coal Industry," and the president of the Ohio Coal Association (OCA) today said Obama spells "disaster" for the coal industry.
"Regardless of the timing or method of the release of these remarks, the message from the Democratic candidate for President could not be clearer: the Obama-Biden ticket spells disaster for America's coal industry and the tens of thousands of Americans who work in it," OCA President Mike Carey said.
"His comments are unfortunate," senior VP Chris Hamilton said Sunday, "and really reflect a very uninformed voice and perspective to coal specifically and energy generally."