"I like coal," Mitt Romney told millions of Americans watching the recent presidential debate.
His opponent, President Barack Obama, preferred to stress support for alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power.
"People in the coal industry feel like it's being crushed by your policies," Romney told the president. That certainly is true. Obama, keeping his promise years ago to make coal so expensive power companies would choose other fuels, has used the Environmental Protection Agency as a sledge hammer against mining.
What Romney did not have time to point out during the fast-paced debate were the possibile ramifications of Obama's policy. It may mean higher-priced electricity for millions of American families.
It also may make many companies less competitive and less able to create new jobs - or even to maintain the ones they provide now.
Obama recently tried to take credit for advances in production of oil and gas in the United States. As Romney emphasized, that happened "not due to [Obama's] policies [but] in spite of his policies."
"Increases in natural gas and oil production have occurred on private land. On government land, your administration has cut the number of permits and licenses in half," Romney reminded the president, adding that, if he is president, "I'll double them, and also get the oil from offshore and Alaska. And I'll bring that pipeline from Canada."
Residents of gas-producing states in the East don't need to be reminded Obama cannot take credit for the natural gas drilling boom. They recall that production of gas from the Marcellus Shale formation was beginning before the president took office.
But Obama's war on coal is new. He insists it is needed to safeguard the environment, but that can be done without destroying the coal industry.