An environmental advocacy group, Forecast the Facts, has launched a petition against President Obama's pro-coal television ad. Launched last month, the ad is running in big coal states — and swing states — Ohio and Virginia.
The 30-second spot claims that Mitt Romney is not "a friend of coal country," quoting the GOP nominee at a 2003 press conference at which he called a coal-fired power plant a "plant that kills people."
"It's so troubling to see the Obama campaign running ads in swing states promoting coal," the petition reads.
To avoid directly attacking the President — whose energy platform is more appealing to environmentalists than Romney's — the group's petition blames the campaign for the ad: "We need President Obama to overturn a decision by his campaign to run [the] TV ad."
But this is not President Obama's first coal-friendly ad. In August, he released a 60-second radio spot in Ohio.
"Ohio coal jobs are up 10%," the ad boasts. "Obama's also made one of America's largest investments ever in clear coal energy, a $5 billion effort to create the next generation of coal-fired plants."
The Ohio radio ad also references the same 2003 Romney press conference.
The two ad buys reflect the President's complex stance on coal. Wanting to appeal to environmentalists and clean-energy advocates, the President has not made coal a prominent feature of his platform, and he supported "cap-and-trade" regulations that would have pushed the country away from fossil fuels. But he also supported "clean coal" — which environmentalists view as a fantasy — as a Senator from coal-heavy Illinois, and sought to counter Hillary Clinton in coal country in 2008 by advertising his allegiance to the fuel.
The coal industry, meanwhile, has not exactly warmed to the President. Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, said this spring on a West Virginia radio show that the administration was killing the coal industry like "the Navy SEALs shot Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan."