Nearly four thousand people turned out Friday in Abingdon, Virginia, to hear Mitt Romney declare his support for the coal industry, which has been besieged for more than three years by President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency. A giant sign behind the Republican candidate proclaimed “Coal Country Stands With Mitt,” and many in the audience wore caps or T-shirts calling for an end to “Obama’s War on Coal,” a war that has escaped the notice of most Americans outside coal-producing regions like southwest Virginia.
“The head of the EPA has… said that the regulations on burning coal are now so stringent it’s virtually impossible to build a new coal-fired [electrical power] plant,” Romney said at the Abingdon rally. “Well, I don’t believe in putting our coal under the ground forever. I believe we should take advantage of it, put American workers back to work and use a resource that’s abundant and cheap and can be burned in a clean way.”
The crowd cheered Romney’s words, a message that sounds eminently sensible to people whose livelihoods are directly threatened by Obama’s policies, but has been given short shrift in the national media, seemingly indifferent to the far-reaching economic consequences of the “green” fanaticism that has dominated EPA since 2009. This extremist ideology is aimed at destroying the American coal industry, as was spelled out explicitly by Obama during his 2008 campaign. He notoriously told the San Francisco Chronicle that, under his planned cap-and-trade agenda to reduce carbon emissions, “if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them.” In making this vow, the then-candidate acknowledged what it would mean: “Under my plan … electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”