Op-Ed: Create jobs by ending war on coal

3/1/2012

WV Business Groups: Create Jobs by Ending War on Coal

Charleston, WV – In the wake of the recent State of the Union Address, several organizations representing West Virginia businesses large and small are calling on the federal government to boost job creation in Central Appalachia by ending its war on coal.

In a statement jointly signed by the West Virginia Roundtable, the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce, the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Logan County Chamber of Commerce, the organizations stressed that that after listening to the State of the Union, they are “disheartened by continued negative sentiments that exist toward coal as a domestic energy resource and as an important factor in our nation’s economic competitiveness,” and that “there seems to be no sign that Washington’s war on coal is going to end anytime soon.”

“The fact that domestic coal was left absent from the State of the Union address in regards to our nation’s long-term energy policy is a major concern for residents and job-creators across West Virginia and throughout Appalachia,” said FACES of Coal spokesman Bryan Brown. “Employers in West Virginia recognize that federal regulators must take an even handed approach and balance environmental protection with the real-life economic factors related to coal production if we are turn this economy around,” Brown added. He also said he expects many other business organizations to sign onto the joint statement as long as federal regulators continue to pursue anti-coal measures in Washington.

A copy of the joint statement appears below:

Stop the War on Coal; Start Creating Jobs
In listening to the recent State of the Union Address and hearing about other policy initiatives coming out of the nation’s capital, we are disheartened by continued negative sentiments that exist toward coal as a domestic energy resource and as an important factor in our nation’s economic competitiveness. Adding to our dismay is the fact that there seems to be no sign that Washington’s “war on coal” is going to end anytime soon.

For the past two years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other bureaucratic agencies in Washington have been undertaking a number of regulatory actions that are posing serious challenges on coal production and coal use, particularly in Central Appalachia. These include an ongoing “review” of hundreds of coal mining permits that were once declared valid by the federal government, new air regulations that are resulting in the closure of coal-fired electric power generation stations, and the recent unprecedented revocation of an approved coal mining permit. This war on coal will affect thousands of good-paying jobs and millions of dollars in state and local tax revenues. It also will damage the viability of thousands of small businesses, many of which are core to this state’s employment and economic stability.

Our collective organizations represent West Virginia businesses and employers large and small. We implore the EPA and other leaders in Washington to return to an evenhanded approach to environmental protection that considers job preservation and the economic well-being in our region and our nation. All economic factors related to continued coal production must be considered in any future energy policy. Officials and regulators in D.C. need to provide coal companies and the miners they employ with a balanced and transparent regulatory process that’s based on natural science instead of political science.

Sincerely:

Paul Arbogast, West Virginia Roundtable
Ellen Taylor, Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce
Mark Bugher, Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce
Debrina Williams, Logan County Chamber of Commerce