Environmentalists say coal employment still strong

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - An environmental group says coal mining employment in 2011 and 2012 was the highest in 15 years, despite claims that President Barack Obama is waging war on the industry.

Officials with Appalachian Voices said Tuesday that federal data shows the average number of jobs was 15 percent higher under Obama than under George W. Bush.

In a news release touting safety at U.S. mines earlier this week, the Mine Safety and Health Administration said the number of coal miners working last year was the second-highest since 1994.

That's even with the loss of 6,000 jobs between 2011 and 2012. North Carolina-based Appalachian Voices is trying to defuse attacks expected Thursday at the confirmation hearing for Gina McCarthy, Obama's nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency. The National Mining Association didn't immediately comment.

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