PFRANKFORT, KY -- Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama launched a new TV ad in Lexington and Bowling Green this weekend that features an Illinois miner praising the candidate for his work on coal issues, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Sunday edition.
"He came to southern Illinois and seen the devastation and the loss of the jobs in the coal industry," said Randy Henry, who is identified as a miner for 31 years. "Washington, D.C., is not listening to us. Barack understands it."
The commercial highlights Obama's key accomplishment as pushing a provision in 2007 to provide $200 million for clean coal technology. The proposal -- sponsored by Obama and four others, including Kentucky Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning -- was passed unanimously as an amendment to the 2008 budget resolution, the Herald Leader reports.
This is Obama's second commercial in Kentucky, which holds its primary election on May 20. His primary opponent, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, began running her first commercial spotlighting her health care plans late last week.
Clinton also prominently mentioned coal in her speech to Kentucky Democrats in Louisville Friday night.
"We're sitting on a huge natural resource," she said, before pledging to invest more federal funds in sequestering carbon dioxide from coal power plants, reports the Herald-Leader.
The Republican National Committee, however, criticized Obama's energy policy for restricting job growth in the coal industry.
"Barack Obama is telling Kentucky voters he 'understands' coal, but fails to mention that he has proposed taxing coal, voted against coal-to-liquid legislation and that his own energy policy would restrict the growth of Kentucky's coal industry," said RNC spokeswoman Katie Wright in a statement.
Obama's campaign dismissed the GOP group as trying to distract voters with "misleading statements," noting that he worked with Bunning on the coal-to-liquid issue, the newspaper rep;orts.
"I relied on my long experience in economics when I wrote the coal-to-liquid legislation that I introduced with Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill," wrote Bunning in a June 11, 2007 column in the Herald-Leader. "My bill would provide incentives for the first commercial demonstrations of coal-to-liquid technology."
Obama, however, has advocated treading slowly when it comes to building new coal-fired power plants.
For instance, in a Nevada town-hall meeting this January, Obama said the industry must concentrate on improving its ability to sequester carbon dioxide emissions -- a key greenhouse gas -- from power plants, reports the newspaper.
"If we can figure out a way to produce coal-generated power cleanly, then we should be for it," Obama said. "But I am not going to license or encourage coal that's dirty. The technology is going to have to prove itself, and right now we're not quite there yet," reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.
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