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Ryan hits president for 'war on coal,' as Obama campaign accuses GOP of distortions

MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. - Paul Ryan, stepped onto stage waving a "Terrible Towel" to play to the suburban Pittsburgh crowd here, as he issued a warning about President Obama's energy policies intended to hit home in coal country.

"He’ll keep his war on coal going," Ryan said. "Over a hundred coal plants are scheduled to close, costing us thousands of jobs. Just a month ago we lost 1,200 coal jobs in states like Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia."

Ryan continued: "Not only are these policies wrong, not only do these policies cost us jobs, not only do they mean that American energy dollars go to the Middle East, they are keeping us from having a boon, they are keeping us from having jobs, they are keeping us from making our paychecks stretch farther."

Team Obama responded by accusing Ryan of being ignorant of the facts or of outright lying.

"Congressman Ryan either doesn’t know his running mate’s record or he’s just not telling the truth about it," Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner said. "As Governor Mitt Romney said a coal-fired plant 'kills people' and touted his power plant regulations as the "toughest in the nation.'"

Kanner touted that under Obama, "employment in coal mining hit a 15 year high in 2011, while he’s making historic investments in clean coal research and development."

The fourth-largest in the country, Pennsylvania's coal industry employs 52,000 people.

Critics say Obama-era regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency could force energy companies here to abandon coal as a fuel for generating power -- which would also put thousands of men and women out of work.

According to Ryan, that possible hemorrhaging of jobs can quickly be stopped.  

"The good news is none of that’s going to happen because we’re going to win this election and we’re going to turn back on American energy," he said.

While Obama has consistently held a lead over Mitt Romney in the Keystone State, some surveys indicate the gap has been is tightening.

The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Obama ahead of Romney here by just 4-points.