In Rebuttal: Obama is not 'pro-coal'
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With the publication of the op-ed piece "Our Pro-coal President" (Perspectives, July 19), it appears the Obama campaign has finally found their man. After a long search for a local Democrat willing to speak out publicly on behalf of this president regarding his administration's attitude toward the coal industry, United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard dutifully stepped up to the plate.
Many of my centrist Democratic friends in the Pennsylvania Legislature and in local government were approached and declined the Obama campaign's request to sign their name to a piece which is absurd on its face and plainly at odds with the genuine interests of working men and women.
The effort to paint President Barack Obama and his administration as "pro-coal" is an affront to every sensible reader of your newspaper. Look no further than 2008 when then-candidate Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board that his policies would "bankrupt" anyone who wants to build a new coal-fired power plant in America. Also, consider the fact that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rolled out 148 regulations related to coal in the last three and a half years; 43 of these new regulations have become final and are in the process of being implemented. President Obama's 2008 campaign rhetoric squares up quite nicely with the policies he has pursued in the White House -- contrary to the false narrative being portrayed now that he's running for re-election.
During my time in the Pennsylvania Senate, I was able to find common ground with Leo Gerard and the United Steelworkers on many important issues affecting the labor movement, our state and our nation. The discussion around energy should be no different. But in this case, politics seems to have trumped pragmatic solutions and honest debate.
The steel industry's future success, as well as that of the whole of the American manufacturing sector, rests on access to low-cost energy -- if you want to talk about outsourcing, continue making energy more expensive and you will see U.S. companies moving jobs off shore in droves.
Affordable, reliable energy is not a partisan issue. A clean environment is not a partisan issue. We all desire these things and they need not be mutually exclusive. Some at the EPA and many of their partners in the environmental movement have been infected by extremism -- and have perpetuated this "one or the other" myth for far too long. They have ceased to promote the values of thoughtful conservation and have instead pledged themselves to an economic suicide pact bent on outlawing our most abundant domestic energy resource.
We should reject the extreme views which have dominated this debate and begin a sincere discussion around utilizing our natural resources in a responsible way that provides wealth and opportunity in our communities without sacrificing public health. Our industry is committed to keeping our workers safe, being respectful of the environment and providing energy for the future of our country.
The Pittsburgh region has a tremendous opportunity to once again become the energy epicenter of the world -- if we leave the politics behind, ignore the hysterics coming from the radical environmental movement, stop allowing Washington to pick winners and losers and let the market work.
It is time for the silent majority to speak up and demand a candid debate about our energy future -- and let the chips fall where they may. This issue is too important to the future of our region to allow the extremes to hijack the discussion.
First Published July 23, 2012 12:00 am