AFL-CIO president: Romney started “war on coal” - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

AFL-CIO president: Romney started “war on coal”

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In a bid to turn the "war on coal" rhetoric on its head, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Oct. 29 that, if there is a war on coal, Mitt Romney started it.

"The EPA curtailed greenhouse emissions as result of a 2007 Supreme Court suit, Massachusetts versus the EPA, brought by the state's attorney general during Romney's tenure," Trumka said in a conference call.

"These are the very same regulations that coal operators and Romney point to to say that President Obama hasn't been good for coal," Trumka said. "That's total hypocrisy."

The conference call for the media was organized to "expose Romney's deceitful campaign on coal and auto support," according to the Oct. 28 e-mail invitation to the press.

The AFL-CIO, a federation of 57 unions, endorsed Obama in March and announced at that time a major mobilization of 400,000 volunteers to get out the vote.

Although the United Mine Workers of America has not endorsed either candidate, Trumka said Obama has been a friend to coal miners.

"During the worst recession in decades, coal production increased 7 percent under Obama," he said. "He's spent $5 billion on clean coal technology so coal has a future. And he's appointed people who are enforcing the safety laws."

Asked about federal Mine Safety and Health Administration shortcomings under Obama, Trumka said the agency was gutted by the George Bush administration and that it is turning around under Obama to focus on high-violation operators.

And asked further about labor's disappointments under Obama, Trumka said, "While the working people's agenda is not completely fulfilled, we'll work on it in the second term. He's been a friend."

What appears to be broad opposition to Obama in this election's swing state of Ohio, based on "war on coal" signs, is coal company owners' doing, Trumka claimed.

"Coal operators are putting a lot of money behind this campaign. Those signs you see were printed by coal operators and handed out by coal operators," he said.

Trumka made brief reference to a Mitt Romney television advertisement that had limited release in Ohio and that commentators say makes misleading statements about Obama's handling of the auto industry bailout.

"They only played it in one city a couple of times," Trumka said. "I think it's an indication of pure desperation."

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