On Aug. 14, 2012 Presidential candidate Mitt Romney came to the Ohio Valley to address our local coal miners. While he came claiming to support our mining industry, one must look back at what his position was on the coal industry and coal fired power plants during his tenure as governor of the state of Massachusetts.
The truth is he realizes he has a problem with coal.
In reading articles from The Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Romney has been a long time critic of the coal industry and the coal fired power plants. It appears that when it helped him politically to be an environmentalist as the governor of Massachusetts, he declared that coal fired power plants kill people and enforced strict regulations without compromise. Unlike the Obama Administration which has gone to great lengths to make sure regulations work with local circumstances and allow plants to continue operating, Governor Romney denied a coal fired plant an extension to comply with regulations, claiming that he would not protect jobs that kill people. His hard line stance that threatened local jobs at the time echoes the years he spent killing and outsourcing jobs when he was a Bain executive.
In our Ohio Valley, coal is a vitally important industry, one that provides good wage with good benefits that keeps a family financially stable. It provides 85% of our state's energy and according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, employment in the industry has increased 10% since President Obama has taken office and production has risen by 7%.
With the steel industry in a state of decline and uncertainty, these statistics offer hope to the unemployed steel workers. President Obama is heavily invested in funding the research and development necessary to ensure that clean coal has a bright future in Ohio by recently awarding $5 billion to Ohio State University and the University of Toledo to move forward with the development of clean coal.
As a result of President Obama's historic investment to keep coal miners safe and under his stewardship, there are presently 3,000 coal mining jobs in Ohio and more than 90,000 coal mining jobs nation wide.
For the concern of workers safety in the industry, the Obama Administration has began a safety inspection program in 2010 and by July of 2012, the injury rate experienced a reduction of 13%. Last year, fatalities resulting from work related accidents declined to the second lowest level ever recorded. Under this administration. it has become easier for black lung disease victims and their families to receive compensation and it is working to institute health standards in coal mines to combat black lung. Any one who works in the coal industry must admit these are important steps to help keep the men and women miners in the coal industry safe. Mitt Romney has to answer for his anti-coal position he's taken as governor and as presidential candidate when he visited our coal miners. What is his real position? Is he for the coal industry or against it? Is he pretending to be an advocate for the industry or does he maintain his position as governor that coal kills people and he won't support an industry that kills people. His announcement to the American people and the world his choosing of Paul Ryan, House Budget Chairman as his running mate just might prove where Romney's priorities are for the future of the coal industry.
It appears to me that President Obama is supporting our coal industry by making it more environmentally acceptable and marketable through his research and development efforts with the two Ohio universities.
John R. DeBonis