Coal dust-up called 'out of context'

Nov. 3, 2008 at 4:44 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- A furor in coal country over a video of Barack Obama was dismissed by the U.S. presidential candidate's campaign as being taken out of context.

Campaign officials said Obama's quote was snipped from a longer statement last January regarding his belief that older coal-burning power plants should be transitioned to cleaner technology, not that he intended to "bankrupt" the entire coal industry, The Washington Times reported Monday.

Nevertheless, the Republican National Committee seized upon the remark for use in its new "robo-call" messages warning voters in the battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania that Obama had a key industry in their states in his cross hairs.

The coal industry also took aim at Obama Monday, calling his alleged remarks about coal being squeezed out of the U.S. energy mix misguided and cynical.

Mike Carey, president of the Ohio Coal Association, said in a written statement that Obama has been hiding his real agenda while "pandering" for vote in battleground states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania that also happen to be major coal producers.

"Senator Obama has revealed himself to be nothing more than a short-sighted, inexperienced politician willing to say anything to get a vote," Carey declared.

Carey said coal remains an important low-cost source of energy and a "key to our nation's long-term energy security."

Another industry association, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said in a written statement that it was pleased both Obama and Republican John McCain recognize the desirability of finding greener ways to use abundant U.S. coal supplies to produce electricity.

"This is the kind of innovation the coal-based electricity sector will bring to the table in working with the new president, the next Congress and other policymakers across the country," said association President Steve Miller.

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