Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tom Smith’s new television ad puts energy policy front and center. The commercial blasts Democrat Bob Casey and the Obama Administration for regulations that, in the ad’s words, have “forced [coal mines] to close.”
What the ad doesn’t mention: while new federal regulations certainly have made things harder for the coal industry, the real threat is the cheap, abundant natural gas created by the ongoing domestic shale boom. Natural gas is easier to obtain and cheaper to purchase, so more and more power plants are relying on gas instead of coal.
Tom Smith is familiar with the coal industry’s place in the market: he made millions running a western Pennsylvania coal company, before entering politics this year.