Updated from 2:50 p.m. EDT with a Romney campaign response and additional information throughout
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Mitt Romney has blamed Barack Obama's policies for coal miner Alpha Natural Resources' (ANR - Get Report) plans to cut 1,200 jobs, which the company attributed to evolving demands of a changing global coal market.
The Romney campaign blasted out an email Tuesday that blamed Obama's policies for eliminating coal jobs in Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, and linked to an article from The Associated Press that reported on a statement from Alpha Natural Resources.
"Today's news that the President's policies are killing another 1,200 jobs in states like Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania is just the latest evidence President Obama hasn't delivered for middle-class families," Ryan Williams, a Romney spokesman, said in a statement.The coal miner said it would make operational adjustments between now and early 2012 to reduce about 1,200 positions from its current work force of 13,100 employees. Effective immediately, the company said it would eliminate 400 positions, with some employees moving elsewhere in the organization. Romney's campaign consistently has blamed Obama for the coal industry's woes, as miners and railroads have seen shareholder value shrink, largely due to cheap natural gas prices. As demand for thermal coal -- the coal used as an input for electricity generation -- in the United States has fallen, Alpha Natural Resources has said it believed it had opportunities to advance its footprint overseas. Part of that will be with thermal coal, but the company said it forecast a 100-million ton increase of seaborne metallurgical coal by the end of the decade. Democratic allies of the president in coal mining states haven't been his biggest cheerleaders because coal cuts are at an early stage and their own political lives are at stake to try and protect those jobs and the industry that has been a staple for more than a century. Alpha said that it would be reducing annualized coal production and shipments about about 16 million tons, 40% of which would be on the thermal coal side as a result of a smaller domestic demand. When asked why the Romney campaign had blamed Obama for Alpha's layoffs, spokeswoman Andrea Saul responded in an email: "You've seen this?" followed by a link to an AP story on the USA Today's Web site that quoted company CEO Kevin Crutchfield saying they faced "a regulatory environment that's aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal." In an interview with Reuters, Crutchfield expanded his comments to include cheap natural gas prices as part of a "doubled edged sword" the company faces. An Environmental Protection Agency rule that goes into effect in 2016, the utility MACT, would not favor coal as an input for power plant electricity generation without significant upgrades to