Coal industry, EPA pollution rules become part of Corbett-Wolf race
When the Obama administration announced plans to reduce carbon pollution by 30 percent nationwide, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett was among the first to defend the state's coal industry.
The Republican from Shaler rebuked the Environmental Protection Agency plan as “job-killing,” and dubbed it the latest front in the “war on coal.”
Corbett's campaign immediately pulled the Democratic nominee for governor, York businessman Tom Wolf, into the fray.
“If President Obama and Tom Wolf had their way, they would be handing out pink slips to 62,000 Pennsylvanians,” Corbett said in a campaign statement issued shortly after the EPA announcement.
For a politically vulnerable Corbett who trails by a wide margin in early polls, a potential threat to the commonwealth's coal industry could offer a foothold, political experts say.
Christopher Borick, political science professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, said it's an issue in which Corbett can play offense in the name of saving Pennsylvania jobs. Meanwhile, proposals to impose a severance tax on natural gas drilling are at odds with Corbett's no-tax pledge.
“On shale gas, he's been pushed into a corner,” Borick said. “There are pockets in Pennsylvania where coal is still a major part of the local economy. In those areas, the governor, I think, has an opportunity to score.”
Pennsylvania was the nation's fourth-largest producer of coal in 2013, according to state data. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity says that 40 percent of the state's energy portfolio comes from coal, compared with 22 percent for natural gas.
The coal industry supports between 62,000 and 63,000 jobs, about 8,100 of which are mining jobs.
Pennsylvania would need to reduce emissions collectively by about a third to meet the EPA's 2030 goal for pollution reduction, according to estimates. John Pippy, CEO of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, said the ramifications have yet to be fully understood. The EPA won't have its final rules set until 2015. Pippy is only so hopeful.
“The talking points haven't meshed with the reality of regulations in the past,” he said.
Wolf has made Pennsylvania's energy industry a cornerstone of his campaign platform. On Monday, he did not rush to throw support behind Obama's plan. He touted its flexibility but cautioned against additional regulatory burdens. Wolf called out Corbett for weak policies.
“With the right leadership that recognizes the importance of a variety of energy sources, we can have a profitable energy sector, a growing economy, and meaningfully address the need for cleaner air,” Wolf's statement continued.
Jeff Brauer, a political science professor at Keystone College in Lackawanna County, said the EPA announcement comes at a good time for Corbett.
“There's no doubt Tom Corbett will continue to push this issue in the campaign,” Brauer said. “For Pennsylvanians who grew up in the era of coal, their sons and daughters, and coal miners themselves, it's an important part of their story and for the culture of Pennsylvania.”
Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Insurers: F-150’s aluminum costly to repair
- Small business hangs on fate of Export-Import Bank
- Muni bond funds stressed
- Trib 30 index slips in July; 29 percent drop makes ATI biggest loser
- Low fuel pressure may have easy fix
- Jaguar XJ flagship struggles to keep pace
- FedEx bid faces in-depth probe of bid to buy Dutch express company
- FirstEnergy to build coal waste processing facility in Beaver County
- Chevy tweaks its truck remake
- $2-per-gallon gas expected by year’s end, but not in Western Pa.
- 3 vehicles to keep an eye on for 2016