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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.

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Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia 

The EPA has announced tougher standards for coal fired plants that produce 46 percent of U.S. electricity and emissions that can impact public health and possibly climate. The coal industry says the changes are coming too fast and will effectively end the building of coal-fired power plants. 

The potential state impact of the new rules was the topic of this year's West Virginia Coal Forum in Charleston. The coal industry has its own word war of words going with the EPA over mine permitting, but their latest concern is that the tougher power plant emission rules will kill the domestic steam coal market. 

Union miners are worried too. UMW President Cecil Roberts said: " Let's talk about using a little bit of common sense here, folks! And we're not talking about just ignoring the environment. We (the UMW) certainly wouldn't be for that. We're talking about let's use a little common sense approach to this to keep people working and deal with the environment. " 

Speakers also said the changes will dramatically raise the cost of electricity for homes and businesses. The EPA did not get a turn at the podium.

See Video here:

The forum took place at the Charleston Marriott at 9 a.m.

By Andrea Lannom
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | Other Stories by Andrea Lannom 

Several speakers during Wednesday’s annual coal forum in Charleston urged the passage of a bill, which would put controls on the Environmental Protection Agency.

This comes on the heels of the EPA’s new air quality rules, which would limit the coal mining industry.

One of the main concerns speakers had is the potential shut downs along with the loss of jobs associated with the closures, that these limitations would cause.

“Coal is critical to keep our manufacturing sector competitive and to keep access to affordable power,” Jeff Herholdt from the West Virginia Division of Energy, said during Wednesday’s forum.

Herholdt explained that if these air regulations took affect, 8 percent of coal demand would be lost.

“We are seeing new investments in West Virginia that will continue the demand for coal,” he said, noting a new power plant coming online in Monongalia County, which he says will be “one of the cleanest plants in the country.

“This is a model for future coal development,” he said.

Two other speakers, Cecil Roberts, from the UMWA and Bill Raney from the West Virginia Coal Association, said the loss of jobs could be devastating.

“This is not just an issue of some coal miners in West Virginia,” Roberts said. “This is a broad issue of people making a living off of coal across the country.”

“This is ridiculous when the economy is in shambles,” Raney said.

Roberts noted the struggle of many Americans who are either unemployed or “underemployed.”

“I tell them that they can get a good job in the American coal industry,” he said. “Everywhere I go in northern West Virginia, I see someone who looks like my grandson mining coal.”

The amount of time to retrofit existing plants could also be a concern, says international energy air expert Gene Trisko.

According to Trisco, there would only be 36 months to install hundreds of retrofitted controlled devices in existing plants.

Trisco then mentioned a question he posed to the EPA about these regulations.

“The first question was, ‘could you please identify units in the database that meet these emission standards?’ It was a short answer. Zero,” he said.

“This rule is twice as expensive as any air pollution rule ever proposed by the EPA,” he said, noting an $11 billion a year price tag. “When we go into regulatory impact analysis, where are the benefits coming from?”

See Video here:


United Mine Workers Union President Cecil Roberts says the coal industry continues to grow despite attempts in Washington to stop the use of fossil fuels.

Roberts was the keynote speaker at Wednesday's West Virginia Coal Forum held in Charleston.

Roberts says the national unemployment rate is at 9.2 percent and in West Virginia it's at 8.5 percent. He says despite the dismal numbers, there are plenty of jobs available in the coal industry.

"Everywhere I go people say, 'We can't find a job.' Well I can tell you where to find a job if you really want one. You can find a job in the coal industry," Roberts told the large crowd.

In the past five years Roberts says the union has added 3,000 new miners in West Virginia. Roberts admits a majority of those have been in one area of the state.

"Everywhere I go in northern West Virginia, I see somebody that looks like my grandson mining coal in that part of the state,” he said.

The union chief says they're making a good living thanks to new, five-year contract the rank-and-file ratified with the Bituminous Coal Operators Association back in June.

"We just got a pay raise. They got an immediate one-dollar per hour raise. They're going to get another dollar in January. That's two dollars in six months. That's an 8 percent raise in six months...And over the life of the contract, they're going to get a 25 percent overall raise. I can tell you I don't know where there's another industry that can say that,” Roberts claimed.

On top of the pay raise, there's also the benefit package that was negotiated that kept the union's substantial insurance and pension plans.

Roberts says when those who work in the mine industry are paid fair wages, it benefits everyone because they spend that money where they live.

"It's all coming back to create jobs in that area where the money comes to,” he said. “Nurses, doctors, people are buying cars from the car dealership. People are going to the grocery store. We're lifting up the economy."

Roberts says what this country needs more of is jobs. He says Congress wouldn't have brought the country to the verge of default last week with the debt crisis if more Americans were employed.

"I think the conversation should be how do we keep people working and how do we put people to work and how do we pay them excellent wages, with excellent benefits? We need more taxpayers in the United States more than anything else we can talk about."

Roberts stressed to keep the coal industry strong and adding employees, the federal EPA cannot move forward with its plan to banish coal as a form of energy.



The West Virginia Coal Forum is hosting an conversation on the potential state impact of air quality rules being implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

This conversation will feature UMWA President Cecil Roberts, representatives of our Congressional Delegation (invited), leaders of the State Legislature, representatives of industry, experts in environmental & energy policy and leaders in the electrical industry

Please mark your calendars for August 10th, 2011.  Additional details will follow shortly.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Chris Hamilton, Co-Chairman
Fred Tucker, Co-Chairman
The Coal Forum
Tel.: (304) 957-2306
1615 Washington Street East
Charleston, WV 25301

Dear Friends of The Coal Forum:
In order to better accommodate the busy schedules of our elected officials at the national, state and local levels, we are postponing The Coal Forum Conversation slated for June 21, 2011.
We appreciate the tremendously positive response we have received from all sectors of West Virginia business, government, labor, industry and the public at-large.
The new date will more closely coincide with the upcoming special session of the WV legislature.  Details will be distributed as they are finalized.
Thank you again for your overwhelming interest in this event!
Chris Hamilton, Co-Chair
Fred Tucker, Co-Chair