Candidates Use Coal To Fuel Campaigns

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel says America needs “affordable, dependable and reliable energy” – and it comes in the form of coal.

Mandel, who is seeking a U.S. Senate seat in November, and other GOP candidates for office in East Ohio focused on the issue of coal during a campaign rally Tuesday outside the Belmont County Courthouse. Mandel was joined by Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, and Shane Thompson, a Republican candidate for the 30th District Ohio Senate seat.

A campaign bus belonging to presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney served as a backdrop for the rally, and miners from the Century Mine in Beallsville – dressed in their work clothes – stood with the bus. Nearby was the owner of the Century Mine, Robert Murray, chief executive officer of Murray Energy.

“Coal is a blessing,” Mandel told the crowd. “There are some who are trying to convince the country that coal is a liability. In my opinion, it is a blessing. It’s not a Democratic or Republican issue. It’s an economic issue.”

Mandel also referred to his background in the military, where he served two tours of duty in Iraq.

“As a Marine veteran, I know that what these guys are doing underground contributes to national security – not just the economy,” he said. “They are also contributing to the security of our kids and grandkids, and I thank you. …

“America is safest when we are producing energy here,” he added.

One of the reasons Ohio has a great history of manufacturing is that it also has a “great history of providing affordable energy,” Mandel said.

He said more than 80 percent of homes in Ohio are powered by coal.

Andy Thompson cited the impact coal has on communities and called the relationship a “very personal one.”

“It’s never been a tougher time to be in the coal business,” he said. “But the thing we can control is Washington, D.C., and it is out of control. If we need to make coal cleaner, let’s invest in the research. We can’t get rid of coal because we can’t count on anything else.”

Shane Thompson agreed coal is an “affordable and reliable” source of energy. But he works in the battery recycling industry and said the development of some alternative energies could be necessary in the future.

“A green economy isn’t bad,” he said. “Tapping into other energies is the holy grail. We need them to secure our energy future. But it is not the government’s role to manipulate technologies and pick winners and losers. … Renewable energies have a future – but not now, and not on the backs of working people.”