Tag Archives: natural gas

The War on Coal

The coal industry has been a political battleground ever since then-candidate Obama said he would implement a cap-and-trade program that would bankrupt anyone who started a new coal-powered plant:

[W]e would put a cap-and-trade system in place that is more — that is as aggressive if not more aggressive than anybody else’s out there … so if somebody wants to build a coal-powered 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.

This issue has continued to dog the President as his EPA policies stifle the coal industry as energy prices sky-rocket and jobs are harder to find in these regions The Wall Street Journal takes a look at the politics of coal in this election:

Coal has improbably risen to become one of the top issues of the presidential campaign, with dueling ads about coal in swing states and attacks by each candidate on the other’s position. The battle is escalating even though coal employment is just a shadow of what it was a few decades ago and its use in power generation is steadily declining, from 48% of U.S. electricity in 2008 to 38% in the 12 months ended July 2012. The industry retains outsize importance in part because of its operations in the contested states of Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The candidates have turned coal into a linchpin in their different visions of America’s energy future. Mr. Romney’s energy plan calls for large increases in domestic production of fossil fuels, including coal, while seeking to roll back environmental regulations.

Tricky politics

The fight over coal is tricky for both men. As governor, Mr. Romney championed a regional program to cap emissions of greenhouse gases, which would have hurt the coal industry. But he later abandoned the program, during his first presidential run. For Democrats, coal is even more contentious. Some conservative Democrats, especially in the upper Midwest, fear the decline of the coal industry will lead to higher electricity prices. Those worries led Senate Democrats to scuttle a bill in Congress in 2010 that would have capped greenhouse-gas emissions. Mr. Obama has defended multibillion-dollar investments in “clean coal,” even though many of his supporters who have concerns about the environmental adamantly oppose any federal support for coal. The Obama campaign says coal-industry employment has risen 10% in Ohio since 2008, a message those supporters are loath to hear.

Stabilizing constituency

The U.S. has about 88,000 coal miners, according to government figures, down from more than 700,000 in the 1920s, but up from 75,000 a decade ago.

Natural gas threat

The greatest difference between the candidates comes in environmental rules targeting greenhouse gases and mercury emissions, which fall most heavily on coal-fired plants. Mr. Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency has aggressively pursued the rules, while Mr. Romney says they amount to a death sentence for coal-fired plants. Energy analysts say a bigger factor is the increase of abundant and cheap natural gas in the U.S. Demand for coal is growing elsewhere globally, though, which is one reason employment in the industry has notched up in recent years despite coal’s slipping rank among power sources. The U.S. has become a major supplier of coal to countries including China, India, Brazil, the Netherlands and Britain. The U.S. has exported more coal so far this year than in all of 2009, and is on pace for a record level of coal exports.

Pennsylvania Support for Obama: “Rotten Underneath”

Pennsylvania is probably one of the more controversial Battleground states this election cycle. Republicans spent enormous amounts of time, money and sweat into the state and fell short in 2004. The McCain campaign poured an incredible amount into the state and wasn’t even close on election day. The Romney campaign was not even going to compete in the state until Republican operatives and strangely enough prominent Democrats cried loudly that Pennsylvania was in play this election. Polls have been all over the place but always with Obama enjoying a solid, though single digit, lead. And months ago pundits were moving Pennsylvania out of the Battleground status before the general election even began. Funny how they are always eager to see a glass-half-empty view for Republican prospects but will claim Democrat competitiveness in states where they sometimes aren’t even competing (Missouri and Arizona).

All that said, Scott Conroy, takes an in-depth look at the state of play in the Keystone state and unearths rather intriguing nuggets in this Battleground state:

Though both sides are adept at putting the most favorable spin on their electoral prospects, strategists for the Obama and Romney campaigns largely agree on which so-called swing states are truly up for grabs and which ones clearly lean a particular way. But perhaps the most glaring exception to that broad consensus is Pennsylvania, where the two camps are working under widely divergent assessments of how the race is shaping up. “When you talk about Pennsylvania, the Obama campaign is going to roll their eyes,” said Romney’s political director, Rich Beeson. “They don’t know it, but it’s rotten underneath for them.

Pennsylvania flips the map

If Romney does capture Pennsylvania in 2012, one line of thinking goes, that result would all but certainly herald a national blowout for the Republican, so why bother investing seriously there when other swing states will make or break a close election? But Romney strategists envision what they say is a realistic scenario whereby the former Massachusetts governor loses one or two tossup states (where recent demographic shifts have created shaky terrain for a GOP presidential candidate) but more than makes up the difference by pulling off a Pennsylvania upset. For instance, Romney could negate potential losses in both Nevada and Colorado (whose combined electoral votes total 19) by winning the Keystone State’s 20 electoral votes.

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Details on Romney’s Tuesday Visit to Pennsylvania

A couple days ago we mentioned Romney will campaign in the Keystone State this week, now the details have emerged he will visit Horizontal Wireline Services in Westmoreland County:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plans to bring his campaign to Westmoreland County on Tuesday, delivering his message about creating jobs and growing the economy to a North Huntingdon company deeply involved in natural gas exploration. Romney is scheduled to make a campaign appearance at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Horizontal Wireline Services LLC at 381 Colonial Manor Road, Chairwoman Jill Cooper of the county Republican committee announced on Saturday to a packed crowd at the GOP’s campaign headquarters in Greensburg. The doors to the campaign event will open at 11:30 a.m. Horizontal Wireline provides well completion and well evaluation services, according to its website. State Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, said she had contacted the company’s owner for the Romney campaign and he agreed to the visit. The company moved into Westmoreland County a few years ago and employs about 100 people.

The Westmoreland County Republican Party held the event at its longtime headquarters on Maple Avenue, which the party has renamed a Victory Center. A similar center opened on Saturday in Montgomery County under the party’s Victory Pennsylvania Program. The Greensburg event attracted about 120 people, some of whom had to stand outside the office.

Rick Santorum pitches in

Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who had been Romney’s rival until dropping out of the race shortly before the Pennsylvania primary in April, said the upcoming presidential election is the most critical in our lifetime. “This is a tipping point in American history. A tipping point as to what kind of country we are going to be,” Santorum said. He accused Obama of being “drunk with power” now in the face of an election. “Imagine what he would do with four more years,” said the former U.S. senator, who lost to Casey in 2006. Santorum told campaign volunteers that Romney needs a big vote in Westmoreland County — greater than the 100,000 that George W. Bush received in 2004 — to win in Pennsylvania. “Westmoreland County is the key. You must do better this time — 110,000 or 115,000” votes, Santorum said. Santorum said he has been assisting the Romney campaign in its battle against Obama, recently opening two campaign headquarters in Iowa.

Battleground Counties: Washington County, Pennsylvania

Washington County, Pennsylvania voted Democrat in Presidential races for nearly four decades until the 2008 election. Although Barack Obama carried the state by 11%, John McCain won Washington County county by 4%. This is a county that should be ripe for Obama with unemployment far below the national average at 6.7% while ranking third in the nation in job growth. But 40% of the job growth is due to the drilling in the Marcellus Shale and Washington County was built on this one issue: coal. Mining the Marcellus Shale has made this county a mini-Boom Town and energy policy is on the tips of everyone’s tongue in this area. Washington County sits in the very heart of this shale and the Obama Administrations policy towards coal has been antagonistic rather than accommodating due to environmental concerns. the original shift to Republican of this county was over energy policies Obama articulated towards coal and natural gas drilling during the last election. This antagonism over the last three years has made the Obama Administration increasingly unpopular among many residents although concerns over the environmental impact of such drilling still holds sway with many voters. Voters in this region are considered “rural voters” who Obama lost by 8% nationwide to John McCain in 2008. Today polling shows President Obama losing this segment by 20%. Meaningful out-performance of that nature can turn the 2008 11% win into a Battleground very quickly.

You can watch the entire video at the link:


Clean Energy a Winner for Romney — National Journal Survey

Despite a lot of rhetoric out of the White House regarding “all of the above” support for “clean energy” a National Journal Survey of Energy and Environment Insiders find that Mitt Romney is winning the messaging war 55% – 40% on this important swing state topic.

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a surprise campaign stop last week at the shuttered headquarters of solar-panel firm Solyndra, his campaign aimed to use the now-bankrupt company as an example of President Obama’s faulty investments in clean energy. Most of National Journal’s Energy & Environment Insiders think the strategy is working. Fifty-five percent of Insiders say that the GOP and Romney campaign strategy to criticize Obama for backing the California solar firm is more effective than the Obama campaign’s response that Romney would cede the clean-energy space to countries like China. The whole scandal is just the perfect punching bag for the campaign, Insiders said. “The optics of Solyndra are too ugly for most voters to not buy some level of malfeasance,” said one Insider.

The survey of 50 policy Insiders covers clean energy, offshore drilling , natural gas drilling/fracking regulations, and subsidies for oil and gas companies. While voters across the country express strong opinions on these issues, they are uniquely important in Battleground states like Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Colorado.

Natural gas drilling/fracking seemed to be an unusually potent issue for the Republicans:

  • “In battleground states like Ohio, Colorado, and Pennsylvania, voters interested in job creation will want to know if the President’s agencies are trying to stop hydraulic fracturing, a key driver of the oil and gas boom.”
  • “Natural gas is a game changer for the economy and for energy independence.  While the White House is attempting to appear supportive of the industry, their actions and their anti fracking allies speak louder. THis could be a very good issue for Republicans.”
  • “The left will zero-in on natural gas export issues.  Sierra Club has already started to do so.  Why?  Because the ability to export gas means more production (fracking) domestcially.”

Obama’s war on coal also clearly strikes a nerve:

  • “In the states that really matter, it will be the Obama Administration’s war on coal.  Look at the top five battleground states — Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana.  Coal is important in all but Florida, and we’ll be hearing a lot about the President’s war on coal in these states.”
  • “Vast majority of focus will be on Keystone XL & Solyndra with POTUS on defense. With oil & gas driving the economy right now (especially in battleground states like CO, OH, PA) there’s not going to be much focus on “clean” energy.”
  • “Keystone. The clear jobs message here will make this an issue the President will want to make go away.”