MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — An environmental group says coal mining employment in 2011 and 2012 was the highest in 15 years, despite claims that President Barack Obama is waging war on the industry.

Appalachian Voices said Tuesday that federal data show the average number of jobs was 15 percent higher under Obama than under George W. Bush.

In touting mine safety earlier this week, the Mine Safety and Health Administration said the number of miners working last year was the second-highest since 1994. That's even with the loss of 6,000 jobs between 2011 and 2012.

North Carolina-based Appalachian Voices aims to defuse attacks expected at a Thursday confirmation hearing for Gina McCarthy, Obama's nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency.

The West Virginia Coal Association dismisses the report as "shoddy analysis" by environmental extremists.