Accusations that President Barack Obama is waging a "war on coal" could jeopardize the campaigns of several of his fellow Democrats running for the House and Senate in the November election.
A firestorm erupted after the Environmental Protection Agency, sidestepping Congress, Monday announced a rule to limit carbon emissions from fossil-fuel burning power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The goal is to reduce global warming.
Obama says it's a matter of protecting people's health and taking climate change seriously. "As president, and as a parent, I refuse to condemn our children to a planet that's beyond fixing," Obama said.
The decision is causing a backlash in coal-dependent states such as Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana and West Virginia. All those states have contested Senate races this November. Opponents of Obama's policy say it is a war on coal that will cost thousands of jobs.
Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., who is considered very vulnerable in his bid for re-election, said in a speech to the House, "At stake is our economy and the livelihoods of our coal miners, our steelworkers, electrical workers, those who keep our freight trains running, and families and businesses that rely on affordable energy from coal."
Other Democratic candidates are similarly worried. Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is challenging Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell in coal-dependent Kentucky, said she would "fiercely oppose the president's attack on Kentucky's coal industry because protecting our jobs will be my No. 1 priority."
Democratic Senate candidate Natalie Tennant, running in West Virginia, said, "I will stand up to President Obama, [EPA Administrator] Gina McCarthy and anyone else who tries to undermine our coal jobs."
The fate of candidates such as Grimes and Tennant could determine whether the Democrats maintain control of the Senate in the November elections.