Press Archive


Charleston, W.Va. (June 23, 2015) – The West Virginia Coal Forum is applauding the National Black Chamber of Commerce for having the bravery to speak the truth about the economic impact of President Obama’s so-called “Clean Power Plan.”

“Harry C. Alford is to be commended for having the guts to tell the public about the economic hardship Obama’s Clean Power Plan will impose on millions of working West Virginia families,” said Chris Hamilton, co-chairman of the West Virginia Coal Forum, a an organization representing both labor and management in the coal industry.

In a June 22 column, Alford sheds light on how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to bring additional regulations to coal-fired electric power generation in the United States will affect the 90,000 blacks and Hispanics living in West Virginia. 

Alford, president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, said his organization completed a new study that shows EPA’s impending regulations will leave minority communities with disproportionately fewer jobs, lower incomes and higher poverty rates than whites. He said EPA may be calling its regulatory plan a “justice issue” for minorities, but its actual effects amount to a severe injustice. Alford said state lawmakers should act before it’s too late.

“We have coal miners that soon may be unable to afford the electricity they work to produce,” said Fred Tucker, Coal Forum co-chairman. “I applaud Mr. Alford’s stand against the EPA’s regulations.  What we need now is for more organizations and people to understand these regulations will hurt America’s coal miners deeply, but will also hurt Americans as their energy costs rise.” 

Hamilton agreed, praising Alford for “saying what we in the coal industry have been saying since EPA first unveiled its plan to impose new regulations on America’s power plants. These new standards will lead to dramatic increases in electric power utility costs, and that will have the greatest impact on those West Virginians who can least afford it.” 

He said energy costs are consuming the after-tax household incomes of West Virginia’s low- and middle-income families at levels usually spent on food, housing or health care. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) reported in 2014 that West Virginia households with pre-tax annual incomes below $50,000, representing 58 percent of the state’s population, spend an estimated average of 17 percent of their after-tax income on residential and transportation energy. Energy costs for the 37 percent of households earning less than $30,000 before taxes represent 23 percent of their family incomes, before accounting for any energy assistance programs. ACCCE said West Virginia’s minorities and senior citizens are among the most vulnerable to energy price increases due to their relatively low household incomes.

“One of the quickest ways to disadvantage your poorest citizens is to increase their electric power bills,” Hamilton said. “It’s clear that EPA’s plan is an attack on our most vulnerable population.”

When looking at specific demographics, the National Black Chamber’s study revealed the Clean Power Plan will lead to higher energy bills, fewer jobs and lower incomes, thereby imposing greater hardships on families already struggling to get by. The study estimates the regulation will increase black and Hispanic poverty rates by 23 and 26 percent, respectively. 

“The Coal Forum renews its push for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and the West Virginia Legislature to refuse to comply with EPA’s Clean Power Plan,” Hamilton said. “It’s time for states to stand up to Obama’s irresponsible regulatory agenda and protect our citizens.”