Press Archive


CHARLESTON -- The following statement is being issued by the WV Coal Forum in response to Senator Jay Rockefeller's vote on Wednesday to help defeat (46-53) a resolution (S.J. Res 37) that would have blocked implementation of EPA’s Utility MACT rule:

"West Virginia's coal mining community is extremely disappointed in Senator Rockefeller’s vote yesterday in the U.S. Senate against a resolution(SJR 37) that would have disapproved the EPA’s Utility MACT rule, the most expensive rule ever proposed by this agency.  It was a bad day for the industry, our people and consumers throughout West Virginia.

Despite a broad-based bipartisan coalition of industry, labor and elected officials, both local and statewide including our Governor, urging his support of the resolution, Senator Rockefeller decided to continue to follow the Obama Administration’s agenda to senselessly eliminate coal as a viable source for electric generation. Our people know what is at stake, and believe we have much more to lose with the Utility MACT rule than gain. We have stood with thousands of coal miners and their families over the past three years, at meeting after meeting, at rallies and at hearings. We counted on Senator Rockefeller to stand with us and listen to the voices of the thousands of West Virginians who have pleaded simply for a chance to work, to earn a living and take care of their families.

This strong support of individuals and groups from across West Virginia was no scare tactic, but rather a deep, sincere concern for the future of our State, our families and our professional workforce.  The Obama Administration’s assault on the West Virginia and Appalachian coal industry is real, as demonstrated by myriad of new coal regulations and policies from several agencies with unrealistic requirements and timetables, the intervention in the permitting process in six Appalachian states, as well as the agency’s revocation of the Spruce permit in Logan County. 

The Utility MACT rule as drafted will essentially prevent the construction of new coal fired generation into the future.  West Virginian’s embrace a clean coal future and have anew coal-fired power plant that is one of the cleanest in the nation, and emits a tiny fraction of the emissions of the previous generation of power plants.  The current generation of new coal fired power plants will meet the Utility MACT rule, however, the bar was set so high for plants into the future that the technology doesn’t exist to meet those standards.  Senator Rockefeller knows this yet he has decided to ignore this fact.

Our nation is best served through the pursuit of policies that are focused on balance, practicality and energy security.  The foundation of such policies require wise utilization of all our domestic energy sources. We as a nation cannot continue to effectively abandon our most abundant and reliable American energy resource and expect to achieve energy independence.”

Chris Hamilton, Co-Chair
Fred Tucker, Co-Chair
West Virginia Coal Forum
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..


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.