Governor Romney made took a step towards courting the vote of the UMWA who are being hurt by mine closures and cut backs as a result of regulations from the Obama administration.
Mitt Romney cheered the coal industry in the presidential debates with his succinct declaration that "I like coal," highlighting an issue that has divided the Republican nominee from President Barack Obama.
Mr. Romney singled out coal in describing his energy plan, saying, "I'm going to make sure we continue to burn clean coal." He said the U.S. coal industry, which generates about 40% of the country's electricity, feels like it's getting "crushed" by environmental standards under the Obama administration.
Mr. Obama, who was on the defensive for much of Wednesday's debate, didn't respond directly to that attack, but he said that in general he wants to "boost American energy production."
The UMWA have declined to endorse Pres Obama, breaking a string of presidential elections dating back to 1976 in which they have endorsed the Democratic candidate for president.
Mr. Romney's position on coal may not be enough to swing any states into his camp, but the GOP candidate is using this issue to demonstrate why he thinks Mr. Obama's rules are too heavy-handed, said Kevin Book, managing director of ClearView Energy Partners.
"Romney is saying this is an area where government is hurting people," Mr. Book said. "He's got a tangible representation of where government has had an impact in a way that he views as negative."