Members Hear Local Perspective on EPA’s War on Coal

July 16, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), today held a field hearing in Abingdon, VA to discuss EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas New Source Performance Standard for utilities and the impact this regulation will have on jobs. This hearing continues the subcommittee’s look into EPA’s suite of new regulations affecting power plants, which are destroying jobs and raising electricity prices. Members and witnesses traveled to coal country to hear first-hand from the businesses and workers who are suffering the consequences of EPA’s damaging regulations.

“Under President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency has cranked out one costly anti-coal regulation after another,” said Whitfield. “It is troubling to me that President Obama continues to put our economy at risk at a time when it is most vulnerable by issuing regulations that cause companies to close plants, which will mean lost jobs and which will ultimately raise electricity prices on consumers. Without the greenhouse gas regulation on utilities there would be 40 gigawatts of new coal-fired capacity built from 2011 to 2035, and instead we have real jobs being lost, and real dollars being taken out of our economy. At a time of high unemployment rates, the Obama Administration should be working with coal states to create and retain jobs, rather than thwarting economic growth and causing miners to lose their jobs.”

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), who represents Abingdon, stated, "I'm so thankful that the people of Southwest Virginia have this opportunity to add their voices to the conversation about the Obama Administration's energy policies. This field hearing should help shed light on the war on coal and the counter-productive impact the president, his policies, and Washington bureaucrats are having on jobs across the region and the country."

Donna Kessinger, a coal miner from Wyoming County, West Virginia, described EPA’s regulations as an attack on her job, her coworkers’ jobs, and the greater coal mining community. “Our jobs allow us to put food on the table, buy clothes for our children and provide our families with good health care so we can lead productive lives. Coal mining makes this possible. Coal mining also provides the foundation for entire communities because it supports local businesses, which are the heartbeat that keep many small towns alive,” said Kessinger. “My industry is under attack, and that means my job is under attack. America’s future economic prosperity depends on the availability of affordable, abundant coal resources.  Furthermore, my livelihood and the well-being of my family is at stake. As I said before, I am proud to be a coal miner. This is an honorable profession that should be respected, not disparaged by those who have no solutions, just loud voices.”

Joe Street, a small business owner testifying on behalf of the Buchanan County Chamber of Commerce, explained the impact of EPA’s regulations on jobs in Buchanan Country Virginia and beyond, stating, “We are only one of thousands of communities across our country that will suffer. Counties in Kentucky and Southern West Virginia will suffer even worse than Buchanan County because they have even higher populations of coal and coal related jobs.”

Daniel Nation, Division President of Parkdale Mills, testified about the effects of EPA regulations on manufacturing jobs due to increased electricity prices. He said, “If we have to turn lights off to conserve energy, we turn them all off, close factories and people start losing jobs. These jobs then end up overseas and we never get them back. Putting higher energy costs on the back of manufacturing is one of the fastest ways I know of to kill more U.S. jobs. This regulation does not solve a problem, it creates a larger one.”

Paul Vining, President of Alpha Natural Resources, Inc., the nation’s third largest producer of coal, discussed the consequences of this administration’s actions on the coal mining industry and our nation’s overall energy portfolio. “Unfortunately, the current Administration – and particularly the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – continues to significantly and artificially influence our domestic electricity market through the promulgation and enforcement of regulations and other agency actions that hinder both the production and use of America’s abundant coal resource,” he said. “I would respectfully assert that now is simply not the time to handicap our own economic health for no discernable environmental gain while our international competitors continue to strive for prosperity.”