Political leaders in Central Appalachia told Ward they "hold out some hope" that the administration might be open to easing Environmental Protection Agency permit reviews and revising new air-quality standards. But experts said that is unlikely, and that the administration may even focus more attention on reducing coal mining's impact on the environment and communities, and reducing air pollution from coal-fired power plants over the next four years. "I think the election returns may embolden Obama on a number of fronts, including a more determined effort to shift black to green on energy," Vermont Law School environmental policy instructor Pat Parenteau told Ward. "He certainly doesn't owe the coal industry or coal-state politicians anything."
Republican challenger Mitt Romney easily won the nation's top three coal-producing states (Wyoming, West Virginia and Kentucky) and all but two of the 25 largest coal-producing counties. Industry-backed candidates won "some closely watched U.S. House races," Ward writes. But industry-endorsed U.S. Senate candidates lost six key races in which "Republicans harshly criticized generally pro-coal" Democrats for not fighting the EPA restrictions. (Read more)