The speech revived accusations from coal advocates that Obama is waging a “war on coal.” The industry had sought to popularize that refrain in swing states that produce coal during the 2012 presidential campaign, without much effect. Obama won in Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania, where coal producers targeted much of their efforts.

Christopher Bosso, a political science professor at Northeastern University in Boston, said the federal aid to the coal industry could help protect Democrats who are facing election in 2014 in coal-centric states.