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Fact check: The facts on President Obama’s support for the coal industry

Republicans are dredging up false attacks on the Obama administration, claiming that the Environmental Protection Agency is cracking down on coal. Conjuring up a “war on coal,” Mitt Romney’s campaign and the GOP are trying to convince Americans that President Obama has a “disdain towards coal and coal jobs.”

The facts plainly disprove the GOP’s partisan attack. President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy plan seeks to develop all of America’s domestic natural resources, including (but not limited to) wind, solar, natural gas, and clean coal. Coal is a fundamental domestic source of energy that provides about 40 percent of the nation’s electricity and President Obama has made investments to support coalworkers and ensure that we will be able to continue to use this abundant energy source.

Here are just a few facts about the President’s record on coal.

  • Coal Mining Employment hit a 15-year high in 2011: Under President Obama, employment in the coal mining industry has increased nearly 4 percent, and in 2011, hit its highest level since 1996. At the end of 2011, there were nearly 60,000 jobs in the coal industry in Appalachia—the most since 1997.

  • One of the most significant investments in clean coal: The President made one of the country’s most significant investments in clean coal research and development. Through the Recovery Act, the Obama administration invested $3.4 billion to expand and accelerate the development of clean coal technologies for use in new and retrofitted power plants or industrial facilities by 2020.

  • Fast-tracked development of clean coal technology: The administration has set a goal of developing cost-effective clean coal technologies for power plants within ten years, with an objective of bringing five to 10 projects online by 2016. The President also established a task force to find ways to overcome barriers that prevent the widespread, cost-effective use of clean coal technologies within ten years.

  • Improving health and safety of coal miners: The Obama administration enacted several efforts to improve miner safety and health, including monthly impact inspections, the pattern of violations program, and education and outreach within the industry. Under the Obama administration’s mine inspection program, compliance by mine operators has improved. Obamacare reinstates provisions that don’t leave miners who have worked at least 15 years with the burden of proving what caused black lung in order to receive their benefits, and in 2011, the nation recorded the second lowest number of work-related deaths in the industry since statistics have been recorded.

Leaders of electric companies have stated that rules like those issued by the Obama administration “can yield important economic benefits, including job creation.” President Obama’s record clearly illustrates why the GOP attacks are nothing more than a misleading distortion of the facts.

Building a clean future for coal is a integral part of President Obama’s plan to develop every available source of American energy while making sure we never have to choose between protecting our environment and strengthening our economy.