Romney to slam Obama on coal in Ohio

Mitt Romney is trying to squash President Obama’s bid to grab the pro-coal mantle in the battleground state of Ohio.

The presumptive GOP nominee will use a campaign stop outside a coal mine Tuesday to paint the Obama administration as anti-coal.

Romney’s campaign on Tuesday circulated a Cleveland Plain Dealer story about a planned stop at a Murray Energy Corp. mine in eastern Ohio. From the story:

In a morning appearance outside an eastern Ohio mine after his campaign bus rolls into the state, the Republican presidential candidate plans to discuss a long-simmering coal country gripe about congressional Democrats and the White House. President Barack Obama, says Romney as well as other Republicans, is using a misguided regulatory and environmental crusade to take the jobs of coal miners in the hills and valleys near the Ohio River.

Ohio is a coal-producing state that gets the lion’s share of its electricity from the fossil fuel. Romney's stop comes a week after Obama’s campaign began running a radio ad in Ohio that highlighted Romney’s 2003 claim that a Massachusetts coal-fired power plant “kills people.”

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The ad touted Obama administration funding for research and development in low-emissions coal technologies, including efforts to trap carbon emissions and store them underground.

But Romney and other Republicans say Environmental Protection Agency air pollution regulations issued under Obama are badly wounding the coal industry.

Romney has attacked regulations finalized late last year that force cuts in mercury and other air toxins from coal-fired plants, and has taken aim at EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases. EPA proposed first-time carbon standards for coal-fired plants earlier this year.

The Obama administration has rebutted claims that it’s anti-coal, and says the industry’s woes — including a number of plant closures that power companies have announced — can't be blamed on the EPA.

They note that the U.S. natural gas boom, which has driven down prices, is what ails the coal sector. Coal was once the nation’s biggest power source, accounting for over half of all U.S. electricity, but its share of power generation has fallen amid the natural-gas boom.

In April, power generation from natural gas-fired power plants almost equaled generation from coal-fired plants, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.