CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Republican candidate Ted Cruz promised to roll back what he calls President Barack Obama’s ‘war on coal’ if he’s elected president.
The Texas senator made the pledge in a speech to the Republican State Convention in Casper on Saturday.
Wyoming, the nation’s leading coal-producing state, has seen hundreds of coal industry layoffs in recent months as several of the nation’s largest coal companies have filed for federal bankruptcy protections.
Calling America, “the Saudi Arabia of coal,” Cruz promised to roll back federal regulations he says hamper coal production.
The Obama administration recently imposed a moratorium on new coal leases.
Wyoming and other states, meanwhile, have mounted legal challenges in recent years to U.S Environmental Protection Agency regulations tightening emission limits on coal-fired power plants.
“Hillary Clinton promises that if she’s elected, she’s going to finish the task and bankrupt anyone associated with coal,” Cruz said. “I give you my word right now, we are going to lift the federal regulators back, we are going to end the war on coal.”
Obama, in announcing the restrictions in 2014, said carbon emission cause health problems and contribute to global warming. “For the sake of all our kids, we’ve got to do more to reduce it,” he said of emissions.
Cruz, however, in an interview Saturday with The Associated Press after his speech, said he’s “not remotely” concerned that rolling back federal restrictions on coal could contribute to an increase global warming.
“The war on coal is driven by an ideological extremism on the part of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and today’s modern Democratic Party,” Cruz said.
On other issues, Cruz drew applause for promising to protect gun rights and turn federal lands in the West to the states.
Cruz told the crowd he was “pretty sure, here in Wyoming, y’all define gun control the same way we do in Texas — and that is hitting what you’re aiming at.”
Lynne Cheney, the wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney, introduced Cruz. Their daughter, Liz Cheney, is one of a crowded field of candidates running for the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House.
“He is part of a young generation of rising leaders and rising constitutional conservatives who are pointing our country back to the fundamental principles on which our country is based,” Lynne Cheney said of Cruz. “He is also a westerner, and he is attuned to our values.”
Cruz has benefited from a deep, grassroots campaign effort in Wyoming, where the state GOP machine has detailed rules for the delegate selection process.
Cruz scored 9 of 12 available delegates at the state’s county conventions last month while Donald Trump and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio each scored one and one delegate remained uncommitted. Trump hasn’t campaigned in Wyoming.
Clara Powers of Wheatland spoke for Trump on Saturday. She told the crowd she has three grandchildren.
“I do not want any of them working with next generation science,” Powers said. “I do not want my grandchildren to believe in evolution. I do not want my grandchildren thinking that global warming is more important than our national security.”
Alan Cobb, a senior Trump adviser, said this week that the campaign made a strategic decision not to commit resources to Wyoming. He said Trump does better in states that select delegates by a direct vote.
As of Saturday afternoon, Wyoming GOP officials were still tabulating results and it was unclear how the state’s remaining 14 delegates will be allocated. Cobb, however, said he expected a strong performance from Cruz.
Cruz said Trump’s decision not to campaign in Wyoming is telling. “The reason he decided not to show up is he recognized he couldn’t win, he couldn’t earn the support of conservatives in Wyoming,” Cruz said.