"When the Work Underground Stops, Everything Above Pays the Price" – Obama Administration’s War on Coal Claims Latest Victims


In announcing 1,200 layoffs and 8 mine closures, Alpha CEO laments "a regulatory environment that's aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal."

WASHINGTON, DC – The news today that Alpha Natural Resources will be scaling back its coal production and eliminating 1,200 jobs is yet another reminder of the destructive consequences of the Obama administration’s war on coal. The company announced today it will eliminate 1,200 jobs, including 400 jobs that will be terminated as a result of immediate mine closures in Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Alpha’s Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Crutchfield, lamented “a regulatory environment that’s aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal.” Today’s news comes on the heels of Friday’s announcement that over 100 coal miners in Boone County, West Virginia, were to be laid off in November.

Alpha’s announcement is just the latest in a string of coal plant and mine closures and layoffs announced this year as a result of new regulatory policies. This summer, OhioAmerican Energy, Inc., announced it would close its coal mining operations in Brilliant, Ohio. The company’s press release cited “regulatory actions by President Barack Obama and his appointees” as the “entire reason” for the mine’s closure. In February, GenOn announced it would shutter 13 percent of its generating capacity by 2015 due to new environmental regulations. And in January, FirstEnergy  announced the early retirement of six plants located in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland due to the high cost and uncertainty associated with new EPA regulations. These mounting layoffs are creating a “domino effect,” impacting the economies of local coal communities. In breaking the news of Friday’s pending layoffs in Boone County, West Virginia, WSAZ NewsChannel 3 reported, “When the work underground stops, everything above pays the price.”

EPA’s excessive regulation is making a bad situation worse. According to a 2012 Congressional Budget Office report, “The rate of unemployment in the United States has exceeded 8 percent since February 2009, making the past three years the longest stretch of high unemployment in this country since the Great Depression.” In this time of sustained unemployment, the Obama administration should be doing all it can to create jobs, but instead, EPA’s actions are putting more and more Americans out of work. 

To prevent even more job losses, the House of Representatives this week will take up the Stop the War on Coal Act, H.R. 3409. The legislation is comprised of a series of bills that aim to stop EPA’s regulatory assault on America’s power sector. Included in the package are three proposals advanced by the Energy and Commerce Committee: the Energy Tax Prevention Act, the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act, and the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, which have all separately passed the House with bipartisan support. The package includes important measures advanced by the Natural Resources Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as well.

House Republicans have a jobs strategy and the legislative record that embraces all of our country’s energy resources, including coal, and is truly emblematic of an “all-of-the-above” approach. Many of these bills, which will help achieve North American energy independence and create jobs, remain stuck in the Democrat-led Senate awaiting action.

To learn more about the House Republican plan to create jobs and encourage American energy production, “like” the American Energy Initiative on Facebook, here.