- The Washington Times - Friday, May 11, 2012

The Obama campaign changed its website Thursday night to include a reference to “clean coal” in the president’s “all-of-the-above” energy plan after Republicans lawmakers criticized the omission.

Under the heading “President’ Obama’s approach to energy independence,” an entire section on the campaign website was altered from “fuel efficiency” to “clean coal.” The sections now appear as: oil, natural gas, clean coal, biofuels, wind, solar and nuclear.

Earlier this week, Rep. Ed Whitfield, a Republican from Kentucky who chairs a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, criticized the president for excluding coal and hydropower, two energy resources that together provide for more than half of the country’s electricity, from his “all-of-the-above” energy plan.

“This administration has been openly in the business of putting coal out of business,” Mr. Whitfield said. “And for the president to run around talking about an ‘all of the above’ energy policy, even on his campaign website, and to not mention coal as an important energy sector is unbelievable to me.”

Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican, on Wednesday tweeted his disappointment about the exclusion of coal, saying Mr. Obama was “out of touch [with Ohio’s] needs.”

The Obama campaign said Friday that the president has long supported efforts to improve clean-coal technology and pointed to a section on coal in a March update about his energy policies on the White House website.

Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith countered that it was Mr. Romney has changed his tune on environmental issues, noting that the former Massachusetts governor had once been quoted as saying that that coal-fired plants “kill people.”

“Look, if Mitt Romney wants to have a debate about coal, we are happy to have that debate,” she said in an emailed statement. “The president has supported clean coal technologies and employment in the mining industry is at a 15-year high. Mitt Romney said that coal-fired plants ‘kill people.’”

The Obama campaign was referring to statement Mr. Romney made as Massachusetts governor in 2003 when he joined environmental activists outside an aging, coal-fired plan to demonstrate his commitment to new emissions caps.

“I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people, and that plant, that plant kills people,” he said at the time.

As a former senator from Illinois, where coal accounts for 47 percent of the electricity supply, Mr. Obama in the past has been a proponent of the coal industry and of “clean-coal” technologies. But as environmental regulations have ramped up against the coal industry this year, the president dropped explicit references to coal in remarks or speeches, The Washington Times reported in March.

The coal industry applauded the inclusion of clean coal on its website but urged Mr. Obama to roll back the Environmental Protection Act’s new more restrictive regulations on coal plant emissions.

“We’re glad the Obama campaign finally included clean coal in its ‘all of the above’ energy strategy, but the president’s commitment to coal needs to be more than just a talking point,” said Evan Tracey, vice president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.