Five Democrats crossed party lines to vote for a failed resolution seeking to roll back EPA clean air rules on coal-fired power plants, but Bob Casey was not one of them.
Casey voted against the measure by conservative U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, trying to block the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxic Standards rules, which opponents claim is part of a "war on coal" by the Obama administration. Supporters say the rules are necessary to combat mercury emissions that studies show are harmful to children.
Casey's GOP opponent Tom Smith (a former coal company owner) blasted him for not supporting the measure. From the Smith campaign:
"I applaud Sen. Inhofe and his colleagues who supported the measure. Unfortunately for Pennsylvania and America as a whole that group did not include Sen. Bob Casey," said U.S. Senate candidate Tom Smith. "As the owner of several coal mining companies, I was on the receiving end of President Obama and Senator Casey's costly, job-killing regulations. I saw firsthand the damage that an out-of-control government can do to an American economy struggling to create jobs. The President's EPA has clearly declared a war on coal - an industry crucial to our economy and Sen. Casey has done nothing to support the energy industry and the Pennsylvania jobs it creates."
Even in West Virginia the vote was split, though. Sen. Jay Rockefeller today blasted EPA critics and the coal industry for scare tactics and ignoring science, notes Ry Rivard at the Charleston Daily Mail, just as coal supporter Robert Byrd did in 2009 before his death the following year. And a look at the roll call shows senators in fellow rust belt states Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio also broke on the measure along party lines (Sen. Toomney voted in support.)
Casey, of Scranton, is from anthracite coal country and released this statement on his vote:
"It is critical to continue to grow this economy and ease regulatory burdens whenever possible; it is also important that we do not do so at the expense of the health and safety of our children. Pennsylvanians know better than most the importance of balancing the economic benefits of coal with the safety of our communities. I voted against this resolution after talking to my constituents and after careful consideration in the best interest of the Commonwealth. I will continue to work to ensure that we strike an appropriate balance and that implementation of the rule protects the interests of Pennsylvania companies as well as its communities."