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Coal finds another ally in Trump's vice president pick, Gov. Mike Pence

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Coal finds another ally in Trump's vice president pick, Gov. Mike Pence

The selectionof Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence as GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump'srunning mate has provided the country's ailing coal industry another ally on thecampaign trail, with Pence providing a lengthy record of supporting the sector andpushing back on Obama administration regulations.

In additionto hailing from a "proudpro-coal state," Pence has been a vocal opponent of the administration's effortsto introduce policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions, including the U.S. EPAClean Power Plan.

Earlierthis year, Pence praised the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to stay the carbon plan until legal challenges toit could take place, criticizing the president's "war on coal."

"Hoosiersknow that coal means jobs and low-cost energy for our state, and tonight's SupremeCourt decision to put President Obama's carbon dioxide regulations on hold is awin for Indiana," Pence said at the time. "The Clean Power Plan exceeds the authority granted to the EPA underthe Clean Air Act, and I am pleased that it will not be enforced while the lawsuitfiled by Indiana and 28 other states and state agencies moves through the courts.Hoosiers may be assured that our state will continue to use every legal means availableto fight President Obama's war on coal."

Shortlyafter the stay, Pence announcedthat Indiana would not comply with federal carbon emissions regulations on powerplants, even if those regulations are affirmed in court.

The approachto the administration's policies spurred praise from coal advocates following newsof Trump's selection of Pence, starting on the local level.

"GovernorPence has been a national leader in pushing back federal overreach including EPA'sClean Power Plan and the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement'sproposed regulation they refer to as the Stream Protection Rule," said BruceStevens, president of the Indiana Coal Council, notingthat coal currently provides about 80% of the state's electrical generation. "Thegovernor recognizes the contribution of coal to Indiana's economy, to its resident'sstandard of living, and what the consequences of harm to the coal industry meanto Indiana.  His understanding of energy andeconomic issues would be beneficial at the national level."

LauraSheehan, senior vice president of communications for the American Coalition forClean Coal Electricity, suggested the Indiana governor would be a good choice forcoal in the face of federal regulations.

"GovernorPence has been a vocal opponent of the administration's Clean Power Plan and anadvocate for an all of the above approach to energy policy," Sheehan said."As Mr. Trump's running mate, we would hope to see a continuation of his supportfor all energy forms and regulations that put states' rights ahead of any legacygoals."

LukePopovich, spokesman for the National Mining Association, echoed Sheehan's praise,telling S&P Global Market Intelligence that Pence would be a reliable advocatefor an "all of the above" energy policy that would ultimately assist thebattered coal industry.

"Pencehas been a leader among his peers in refusing to allow EPA to dictate how his statewould generate electricity and the price increases Hoosiers would pay for it,"Popovich said. "That suggests his commitment to an 'all of the above' energystrategy and to the right of his state to manage its own grid – two convictionsthat now look even smarter after the Supreme Court's stay of the Clean Power Plan."

Longbefore Trump's announcement, an LLC registered to Murray Energy Corp. founder and CEO Robert Murray donated$95,000 to Pence's gubernatorial campaign, according to media reports. Murray isthe largest privately held coal producer in America.

Expectedly,Pence's strong support for coal power and opposition to the EPA's carbon plan earnedcriticism from environmental activists to match the industry's praise.

"Trumpand Pence are a one way ticket to climate and environmental disaster," theSierra Club wrote in a statement released immediately after the announcement.

On Jan.26, Indiana signed ontoa multi-state request addressed to the Supreme Court to halt the EPA's rule whileit is being litigated, after a federal appeals court refused to do so.