Republicans are turning up the heat on President Obama's proposals to fight climate change, with vigorous attacks on Democrats running for office in key coal-producing states.
A central part of Obama's new energy initiative, announced last week, is proposed limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants and shifting the nation away from the use of coal to natural gas and other sources of energy that generate fewer carbon emissions. This has prompted GOP leaders to portray Obama as waging a "war on coal."
The Republicans are trying to tie Democrats to Obama in states where many jobs are linked to the coal industry, such as Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, and states where conservative voters might be motivated to turn out at the polls because of excessive Democratic intervention in the economy. Republicans also say the Obama proposals would increase electricity prices.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is criticizing Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, the secretary of state in Kentucky, for supporting Obama's "radical agenda" on coal and other issues. Grimes is challenging Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
In Virginia, gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, hitting at Democrat rival Terry McAuliffe, calls the administration plan the "Obama-Biden-McAuliffe war on coal," adding Vice President Joe Biden to the mix.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is feeling the heat. He told Fox News, "It's just ridiculous…I should not have to be sitting here as a U.S. senator, fighting my own president and fighting my own government. I will continue to reach out, but I need a partner here. I don't need an adversary." Manchin called Obama's energy plan a "war on America."
But Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz argues that the GOP goes too far. Moniz told Reuters that Obama "expects fossil fuels, and coal specifically, to remain a significant contributor for some time [to the nation's energy supplies]."
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Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," for usnews.com, and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Facebook and Twitter.