Climate group pushes Obama campaign to pull pro-coal ad

“Whereas Romney’s ads touting coal represent what he intends to do as president, this ad — I think it misrepresents the president,” Johnson told The Hill.

In campaign stops, Romney has pointed to environmental regulations rolled out during the Obama administration that Republicans say target the coal industry. Romney and GOP lawmakers say that shows Obama’s true colors on coal.

Johnson does not disagree. He said Obama “has done a significant amount of good work” by considering the public health aspects regarding coal burning, which has formed the legal justification for regulating emissions from coal-fired power plants.

But those regulations have concerned coal state voters, as they contend it has crippled the industry. The administration, and many Democrats, have pinned coal’s decline on lower natural-gas prices, which have decreased demand for coal.

Forecast the Facts is not focusing on Romney, it said, because “it’s clear Romney ... has abandoned his calls for restricting traditional coal pollution or restricting greenhouse gas pollution or promoting higher efficiency vehicles.”

But coal is a significant issue for voters in Ohio and Virginia, key swing states that have seen increasingly frequent visits from the candidates.

Johnson, who said Forecast the Facts’s primary goal is to advance climate change dialogue, said Obama should stick the policies he pushed for the past four years. He said kowtowing to coal voters, no matter what effect it has on his electoral chances, would prevent that conversation from emerging.

“As an outsider, the one thing I would say is that I think Romney has made it pretty clear that he is the candidate who will choose to support the coal industry at the expense of the health of the American people, as opposed to President Obama,” Johnson said. “I think that choice has been made pretty clear."

The Obama campaign did not immediately respond.