A light shines behind President Barack Obama as he speaks during a campaign… (Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo )
OSAKALOOSA, Iowa – The presidential candidates turn to the topic of energy Tuesday as they travel to different battleground states with different interests in future U.S. energy policy.
In Iowa, President Obama plans to talk about wind energy as he pushes Congress to extend the production tax credit for companies investing in this growing alternative source.
In Ohio coal country, meanwhile, Republican Mitt Romney is expected to talk about Obama’s “war on coal” and the strain he says it puts on an industry that helps to power the state’s economy.
The debate boils down to a discussion of the relative merits of wind versus coal, and of the role of federal regulators in protecting public health and promoting industry.
Obama criticizes Romney for opposing tax credits for producers of wind energy, which he calls an investment in domestic energy development and technology of the future.
Romney’s campaign has made it clear that he would let the tax credit expire because he believes the government shouldn’t get involved in propping up particular industries or supporting one over another.
Even though Obama has professed an “all of the above” energy strategy, one that values all domestic sources, the coal industry says his administration’s environmental policies have hurt their industry.
Utilities and producers say federal rules limiting emissions of mercury and other toxic substances for coal-burning power plants are overly broad and harmful to the economy. The administration argues the rules are in place to promote public health, while Romney opposes them for economic reasons.
The candidates’ travels Tuesday provide a fitting backdrop for the discussion.
Romney is expected to tour a coal mine owned by Murray Energy Corp., which has blamed layoffs at several of its mines on federal regulations, the Columbus Dispatch reported Tuesday morning.
And as he makes his way across Iowa this week, Obama's bus is spending hours passing through an expansive Iowa landscape dotted with bright white windmills.