WASHINGTON – Joey Gollihue,of Logan,W.Va.,says he hopes to work in a coal mine one day,like his Uncle Cliff.
The 3-year-old didn't elaborate,but his father,Robby,36,was laid off recently after three years at the Independence Seam mine and said he wants his sons to stay out the mines if they can,for their safety. The Gollihues and several hundred other people attended a rally Wednesday aimed at pending legislation they say could hurt the domestic coal industry.
The rally,held near the Capitol,featured several members of Congress and Appalachian statehouses. The Federation for American Coal,Energy and Security (also called FACES of Coal) led the event,with Rep. Shelley Moore Capito,R-W.Va.,functioning as the master of ceremonies.
“The United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal,” said Sen. Jim Webb,D-Va.
Webb highlighted three challenges facing the U.S. coal industry:
- More than half of the energy consumed in the U.S. is derived from coal companies,and “whatever formula” government officials use to shift to greener energy production,it will have to incorporate coal mining states.
- The Environmental Protection Agency is trying to “regulate coal out of business.”
- The coal community needs to support a bill sponsored by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.,that would pre-empt and delay EPA enforcement of carbon emissions based on recent Supreme Court decisions.
Bryan Brown,executive director of FACES of Coal in West Virginia,said “a dozen or more organizations” collaborated for the event. He said they aimed to highlight the role of the American coal miner and to make miners' voices heard about “overregulation” of the industry.
“It was an excellent showing that frustration and anger exist over the federal regulators' attempts to eliminate coal,” he said.
Brown said coal companies from all facets of the industry have been met with increasing red tape and threats of a moratorium on mountaintop-removal mining.
Earlier this year,the EPA announced that it would veto the mining permit of a surface mine in Logan County,W.Va.
“We've set commonsense guidelines that protect the local waters,maximize coal recovery and reduce costs,” an EPA spokesman said in an e-mail statement.
He said that the veto came from the inability of the Spruce No. 1 Mine to comply with water quality specifications. The agency said the mine would bury seven miles of headwater streams,directly affect 2,278 acres of forestland and degrade water quality in streams adjacent to the mine. It would mark the first time the EPA has revoked a mining permit.
The spokesman said the agency is using existing regulatory authority.
“I think a lot of what the EPA is doing comes from a lack of common sense,” Brown said about the Spruce mine and the carbon emissions regulations the EPA is set to enforce beginning next year.
The rally followed a likely fatal blow in February “cap-and-trade” legislation that would have allowed companies to sell pollution credits.
Sens. John Kerry,D-Mass.,Joseph Lieberman,I-Conn.,and Lindsey Graham,R-S.C.,abandoned provisions for cap-and-trade,but climate change legislation remains stalled in the Senate.