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Obama urges coalfield officials to back climate action

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As coal industry officials and their political allies launched furious opposition to a federal effort to fight climate change, President Obama on Monday urged coalfield communities to support the plan, offering to work with local leaders to address coal’s legacy liabilities and provide new economic opportunities where the mining industry’s decline is being felt the most.

In a White House speech, Obama criticized those who have been campaigning against and planning lawsuits over his administration’s “Clean Power Plan” before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had even finalized details of its series of rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

“They will claim this is a ‘war on coal’ to scare up votes, even as they ignore my plan to actually invest in revitalizing coal country and supporting health care and retirement for coal miners and their families and retraining those workers for better paying jobs and healthier jobs,” Obama said.

“Communities across America have been losing coal jobs for decades,” the president said. “I want to work with Congress to help them, not to use them as a political football. Partisan press releases aren’t going to help those families.”

Just minutes after Obama finished his speech, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, issued a statement that said “limited changes” from a draft made public a year ago still leave the plan “unreasonable, unrealistic and unattainable for our state…

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