Crackdown on coal hurts jobs, families

If you have been watching or listening to the news media, you can tell Obama’s EPA has declared war on coal production in this country, well let me tell ya about the coal miner and his family … I’ll call this “Coal Depression.”

I am a retired coal miner and UMWA Union member. I shop at local stores, eat at local restaurants, pay local taxes. I receive Social Security and draw my coal miner’s pension and health care, which is now in jeopardy. Why? Because of the government’s “Environmental Protection Agency.” Due to their strict regulations on the burning of coal the average coal employment has stropped 18 percent over the last two years. Central Ohio Coal Company was forced to shut down several years ago which then lost around 900 good paying jobs, and that doesn’t include the jobs lost at the Beverly power plant. West Virginia lost more than 2,500 coal jobs. Kentucky lost another 6,000 coal jobs, and coal employment has dropped to the lowest level since 1927. That, my friends, means that nearly one billion in wages and benefits have been ripped out of our economy in the last two years. That doesn’t count the impact on jobs lost that depend on the coal industry, like service industry workers and more. Now then, there is a serious threat to my and many other coal miner’s retirement checks, and health care payments. The EPA has waged a war on coal, and slowly but surely putting a stranglehold on lives and livelihood of tens of thousands of coal miners, utility workers, electric workers, boilermakers, railroad workers and their families. Electric power plants have spent millions coming into compliance with emission standards and are closing prematurely. Their owners cannot economically justify spending the millions more it will cost to comply with the EPA’s onslaught of regulations. Of course this means more jobs are lost, tax revenues, public services are threatened, and school budgets may be slashed. What the EPA is doing is irrational, insensitive and condescending. They provide no concrete solutions to meeting the economic needs of communities, nor to meeting the skyrocketing domestic demand for energy. There are those in this country who celebrate the non-building of new coal fired power plants, and the closing of the others. Now then, lets get real: We could stop burning coal tomorrow, and it would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by about 3 percent. It won’t take long for our old trade buddy China along with India and dozens of other country’s to fill the gap, for they have no restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, and we will lose more jobs because of their ability to produce cheaper energy. But ya know, not all of Americans are celebrating. There are those who are concerned about our long-term energy reliability at a reasonable cost. Business and labor are concerned about keeping America’s jobs here. Let’s face it, other nations are not going to stop burning coal just because we wag our finger at them. It’s up to us to develop and implement technology that allows the world to continue to use coal. We are on the right path of doing that, but hurdles remain that will require significant government resources to be invested. It’s going to require the same technological and engineering innovations it took to put a man on the moon. It can be done, but … will our government do it?

Robert D. Carnes

McConnelsville