House GOP to Obama campaign: What about coal?

Whitfield, a vocal supporter of the coal industry, showed a section of Obama’s campaign website during the hearing. The page includes a graphic that outlines the president’s much-touted “all-of-the-above” energy plan, with energy sources such as oil, natural gas, biofuels, wind, solar and nuclear.

“President Obama has a real strategy to take control of our energy future and finally reduce our dependence on foreign oil — an all-of-the-above approach to developing all our energy resources,” the website says.

The president has toured the country in recent months touting his energy plan amid growing GOP attacks and high gasoline prices. The White House has worked aggressively to counter GOP claims that the president is targeting the fossil fuel industry.

But Whitfield said Obama’s energy plan is hardly “all-of-the-above.”

“Coal is still a valuable resource … and yet this administration has been open in the business of putting coal out of business,” said Whitfield, who comes from a coal state.

“To not even mention coal as an important energy sector is unbelievable to me,” he added.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) piled on over the Obama campaign website.

“It talks about all of our energy resources and it leaves out 57 percent of our energy sources,” Walden said, noting that, in addition to coal, the graphic does not mention hydropower.

“This administration’s energy policies are driving us off the edge,” he said.

Coal-fired power releases into the atmosphere high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution, which scientists say contribute to climate change and have been shown to harm public health. The administration has said it supports the expansion of coal for electricity generation if companies install technology to reduce emissions.

Republicans have long alleged that the Obama administration has "declared war on coal," pointing to Environmental Protection Agency air regulations that industry groups claim impose major burdens on utilities.

The administration has a “deep-seated hatred for coal and the electricity generated by coal," Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), a vocal proponent of the coal industry, said Thursday.

The claims reached a fever pitch in March when the EPA proposed first-ever national standards to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants.

The regulations deal a blow to foundering efforts to build more coal-fired power plants in the United States. Many plans to build new coal plants have been shelved as a result of competition from inexpensive natural gas — which is undergoing a production boom — and other factors.

The regulations would require new power plants that burn fossil fuels to release no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt‐hour.

The agency said new natural-gas plants will be able to meet the standard without adding any additional technology. But new coal plants would need to add new technology like carbon capture and storage (CCS), in which carbon dioxide emissions are collected and sequestered in the ground rather than released into the atmosphere.

But EPA has worked to ensure the rules aren't overly burdensome to the coal industry. Instead of meeting the standard on an annual basis, new coal plants that install CCS technology can use a 30-year average of their carbon dioxide emissions.

An Obama campaign spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.