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Over the years the electric utility industry here in West Virginia has repeatedly asked the coal industry to weigh in and join them in matters of economics, environmental policy and encroachment by other base fuels into the electric generation process.
 
Ranging from funding for the federal clean coal technology programs, sitting and permitting issues, water usage and routine “rate increase” hearings before the Public Service Commission or even pathways for new power lines, the power industry has not hesitated to summon the assistance of coal to intervene on its behalf.  And, over the years the coal industry has been quick to respond.
 
After all, the coal industry and electric utility industry are intrinsically linked and up until now interdependent on one another -- partners of sorts and rightfully so -- they are jointly responsible for building the infrastructure and power system that has delivered America’s household and industrial power in a reliable and secure fashion over the years. Because of this coal-fired power system we have emerged as a world leader, transforming our culture into a modern, electrified Mecca and establishing an extraordinary quality of life for our citizenry.
 
Here in West Virginia, we have jointly accounted for upwards of 60 percent of all business taxes paid to the state and the benefits of coal severance monies returned to counties across our state has been discussed ad nauseum.
 
Now the rub... increased political and government pressures for low cost fuel and for transitioning towards other energy forms coupled with the perception of abundant natural gas has led to strong speculation that the power industry is beginning to break its long standing partnership with coal and those dependent on the current coal economy. Electric utility officials have said as much recently.
 
The decision not to refit the Big Sandy plant in nearby Kentucky at this time plays into that position.
 
We would urge AEP and other in-state utilities, to strengthen their resolve and “dance with the one who brought you.”
 
Just as there’s been no hesitation to call upon coal to assist in the utility industry’s political, operational and technical agendas, coal is relying on assistance from its utility partners to combat the anti-coal forces at work everyday to weaken this time-tested power system that has been responsible for so much within our world. After all, we are “partners of sorts” and the general coal economy is now asking for greater staying power from its energy partner.
 
Coal’s economy not only includes the 63,000 West Virginians who show up at a mine everyday but also includes railroad workers who are responsible for getting our product to end users and our ports for export market, and all the indirect jobs reliant on coal as well as the millions of dollars that go into state health care, retirees’ medical benefits and abandoned mine land programs.  The infusion of millions of coal severance dollars into local economies and for state funded educational programs and programs for the less fortunate and seniors, is also unmatched.
 
The promise of abundant natural gas aside -- which may or may not pass the test of time as an energy partner, -- we call upon the utility industry to step up to the plate, and recognize the historic significance of coal-fired electric generation its continued benefits and to simply “dance with the one who brought you.”
 
Appearing to be political correct or succumbing to increased political pressures may be convenient, but ultimately is short-sided and potentially places our current power supply that we’re accustomed in jeopardy. Such a move would also all but obviate a long term cost benefit model when factoring the true cost of transition away from coal.
 
We believe the time is now for taking our partnership to new heights and call upon our utility friends to join coal in developing workable energy and cost savings strategies going forward.

A Senate Resolution introduced by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) would nullify the EPA's Utility MACT rule, finalized this past December. Under Congressional rules, if the resolution gains 30 pledges of support from the Senate, it must be placed on the Senate Calendar for vote. With a simple majority vote by the full Senate, the resolution would overturn the MACT rule.

We urge West Virginia Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller to support the Inhofe Resolution. The EPA's Utility MACT rule is the agency's most expensive regulation ever for power plants. It imposes steep costs to the economy and endangers hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide, with many of them right here in West Virginia.

Sound off here!

 A Bloomberg Government Study has found:

• New coal plants would effectively be banned because their emission rate is almost double that of the proposed standard.
• The new policy probably wouldn't shift current investment patterns in the power sector. Natural-gas plants already have a compelling price advantage.
• Although the rule makes room to build coal plants that incorporate carbon capture and storage technology, coal plants with CCS probably won't be built unless Congress enacts new programs to subsidize them.

We the undersigned wish to express our support for those in elected office who would consider the economic impact that the new EPA rules would have on West Virginia. We further support the efforts of the WV Coal Forum in their attempts to educate West Virginians and our elected leaders  about the effect of the new rules on our local economies and further, the Coal Forum's effort to always advocate for West Virginia coal

Sign the petition

We encourage YOU to participate –

The West Virginia Coal Forum – an organization representing both labor and management in the coal industry – will host three forums across West Virginia featuring Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, Congressman Nick Joe Rahall, Congressman David McKinley, UMWA President Cecil Roberts and others to discuss EPA’s War on Coal and, specifically, the agency’s greenhouse gas and Utility MACT proposed rules.

These rules will significantly affect West Virginia jobs, and in fact, have already resulted in the announced premature closure of several state power plants.  The purpose of the Coal Forum events are to increase awareness of the harmful impacts these rules will have on the economy of Appalachia and to discuss strategies for reversing them.

Stakeholders in West Virginia’s mining economy – industry leaders, mining personnel, association representatives, local legislators and policy leaders – are encouraged to attend.

Confirm your attendance at one or all of the events by emailing your name, title, organization and the event you plan to attend to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

EVENT DATES:

May 22, 2012
Charleston, WV        
Embassy Suites Hotel        
11:00 a.m. – 12:30 a.m.
Featuring Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito and UMWA President Cecil Roberts

May 23, 2012        
Wheeling, WV        
Oglebay Resort         
10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Featuring Congressman David McKinley

May 24, 2012        
Beckley, WV        
Country Inn & Suites / Mountaineer Conference Center        
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Featuring Congressman Nick Joe Rahall

(Senator Manchin will have representatives at each meeting.)

West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney said the rules are having a negative impact on power plants and pocket books of people in West Virginia.

By Courtney Clark

CHARLESTON --  The Environmental Protection Agency's air quality rules and how they impact the coal industry are the focus of this year's West Virginia Coal Forum.

The event kicked off Wednesday morning at the Marriott in Charleston.

It featured United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts, representatives of West Virginia's Congressional Delegation, members of the state Legislature and representatives of the coal industry.

West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney said the EPA's "unrealistic rules, politics and time tables" are having a negative impact on power plants and pocket books of people in West Virginia.

"These negative impacts, they'd be bad on their own, bad at any time, but they really seem ridiculous today when the country's economy is absolutely in shambles," said Raney.

According to Raney, the rules not only affect West Virginia, but the entire country.

They also touched on other coal-related issues, such as the level of competitiveness and productivity of the industry, miner's health and safety issues, and the overall image of the coal industry.

Staff
Charleston

It's not just the West Virginia coal industry that's feeling the heat from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The president of the Ohio Coal Association says it's a problem nationwide.

"The EPA's flood of new regulations, which we're calling and everybody is calling "the train wreck," must be stopped,” said Mike Carey.

He was a guest speaker Wednesday at the West Virginia Coal Forum in Charleston. He says the Obama administration and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson are determined to bury the industry.

"Don't let it be a surprise when you can't get a permit to mine your coal and you can't get a permit to build a coal-fired power plant,” Carey said. “And oh, by the way, the power plants that you do have, we'll we're going to try to shut them down."

Carey says while Ohio has far fewer coal mines than West Virginia, his state would be devastated if proposed EPA regulations to shut down coal-fired plants were enacted.

"If the proposal were finalized, my state alone, the state of Ohio, which has the manufacturing base, which has the service, which has the agriculture, my state alone loses 53-thousand jobs,” he said.

And it's not just about job losses. Carey says you have to consider the cost of energy. Right now, Ohio and West Virginia both have some of the cheapest utility rates in the country. He told those attending the forum, if the U.S. is forced to move away from coal-fired power plants, expect bills to sky rocket.

"Homeowners in the state of Ohio would pay 23 percent more for their electric rates,” Carey said. But that's not just in Ohio. In Pennsylvania it would go up 17 percent."

Carey believes it's time for the entire nation to stand up and demand the White House and the EPA think long-term about the demands they're making.

"I think the top priority that we have, not just as an Ohio Coal Association or a West Virginia Coal Association or whatever campaign you're part of, the first priority is to stop the EPA Clean Air Act Regulations."

Carey says that doesn't mean destroying the environment. It means burning coal in an environmental friendly way.