Mitt Romney sold himself as the BFF of coal Friday afternoon in order to appeal to Appalachian voters in Abingdon, Virginia, as well as talking down job numbers under Obama. But Mitt Romney is no BFF to coal and jobs in coal are at a 15 year high, while national unemployment hit the lowest level since 2009 today.
Not only did Romney use unpaid coal workers who lost pay due to his rally in a campaign ad, but as Governor, Romney said a Massachusetts coal-fired plant “kills people” and touted his power plant regulations there as the “toughest in the nation.” He also denied a coal plant an extension to comply with regulations.
Now, Romney says Obama is crushing coal, when in fact coal jobs are at a 15 year high.
Watch a clip from CNN here where Romney’s “coal kills” position is discussed:
BANFIELD: I want to switch gears for a second to coal. Mitt Romney is about to hold a live event, a campaign event, in coal country, he’s headed to Abingdon, Virginia, southwest Virginia. You were watching on Wednesday night when Mitt Romney declared himself a friend–a bff you might even say– to the coal industry. Have a listen to this.
ROMNEY: By the way, I like coal. I’m going to make sure we continue to burn clean coal. People in the coal industry feel like it is getting crushed by your policies.
BANFIELD: Man, that sounds awesome if you’re in the coal industry. Oh wait, hold on, there was 2003, our research department happened to find tape that may have suggested otherwise, have a listen:
ROMNEY: There is no one in the commonwealth that’s more committed to having jobs in the commonwealth. But I’ll tell you one thing, I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people. And that —
BANFIELD: “That plant behind me,” he went on to say, there was a coal plant behind him, a real, you know, controversial thing. I know you know this story, Wolf. And some people said, look, this was JUST one plant he was talking about. But we went further, we actually found that it wasn’t just one dirty plant that Mitt Romney was worried about. The very same month, his office put out this press release, that stated, and I quote, “coal and oil fired plants, plural, contribute significantly more air pollution than their gas-fired counterparts, exacerbating acid rain and global warming.” This is what the democrats would seize upon and say, classic flip-flop, but does it matter when it you get to Abingdon, Virginia and you are campaigning and suggesting this government wants to make your life hell.
Romney believes now that coal regulations are killing the coal industry, in spite of the fact that under Obama coal jobs have grown to a fifteen year high.
Not only has the the Obama administration has made significant federal investments in “clean coal”, attracting more than $10 billion in private investments, but in 2011, employment in the coal sector hit its highest level since 1996:
Nationwide, the total number of coal jobs is at its highest level since 1996, with 90,354 jobs in 2011, according to federal Mine Safety and Health Administration data.
In Appalachia, the 59,059 jobs reported were the most since 1997, according to the MSHA data. In West Virginia, coal employment reached its highest level since 1992, with 23,353 jobs, the data shows.
A fifteen year high in employment in coal is what Romney calls “People in the coal industry feel like it is getting crushed by your policies.” Maybe some “people” do “feel” that way, but feeling it doesn’t make it so. They are not, in fact, getting “crushed” by Obama’s policies; quite the contrary. They are flourishing.
Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith issued a statement about Romney’s remarks, correctly pointing out that not only have businesses added 5.2 million jobs under Obama, but the unemployment rate is at its lowest level since 2009. She wrote, “At his Virginia event today, Mitt Romney talked down the economic progress we’re making, but the truth is that businesses have added 5.2 million jobs over the past two and a half years, and the unemployment rate is now at its lowest levels since January 2009.”
Ms. Smith continued by noting that Romney’s plans would not create jobs and would hurt the economy, points backed up by independent analysts who warn of a deeper recession under Romney’s plan, “Romney won’t tell the truth because he knows his plans would pummel the middle class, taking us back to the same failed policies that caused the collapse and record job losses in the first place. In fact, independent economists say his plans would not create jobs, could slow the recovery, and could actually cost us two million jobs over the next two years. The American people want to move forward, not back.”
Mitt Romney used to think coal was killing people but today he “feels” that Obama is killing coal. Is he unaware of the excellent job numbers in the coal industry or is he just telling people whatever he can to win an election? If Romney believed that coal was killing people when he was Governor, what changed since then?
Mitt Romney used to believe in global warming and acid rain, now apparently he believes whatever he needs to believe in order to win, facts be damned.
Updated: 3:46 PM to correct “regulation” with “industry” in this sentence
“Romney believes now that coal regulations are killing the coal industry”.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.