PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin joined West Virginia miners, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and others Wednesday for a Rally to Support American Energy. The rally was held in response to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) public hearing for the proposed Clean Power Plan rule scheduled in Pittsburgh Thursday, July 31 and Friday, August 1.
Two busses transported locals to the rally as well. Those in attendance included: Logan Mayor Serafino Nolletti, Man Mayor Jim Blevins, Senator Art Kirkendoll , Senator Ron Stollings, Delegate Rupie Phillips, members of Citizens for Coal and many more.
Governor Tomblin started the day with a bold statement: the EPA’s proposed standards are simply unattainable.
“Today’s rally gives us an opportunity to come together and explain the EPA should be working with us toward energy independence, not mandating unilateral restrictions on our nation’s energy production,” Tomblin said. “That’s why our state is joining the fight against the EPA’s proposed rules to establish unreasonable restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions. These ideological policies will not only devastate our region by eliminating jobs, but will unnecessarily increase the cost of power across the country.”
The EPA has been conducting a series of hearings this week – in Atlanta, Georgia; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Denver, Colorado; and Washington, D.C. – on its proposed carbon emissions rule that would negatively affect the burning of coal at America’s power plants. Pittsburgh’s hearing is set for today and tomorrow.
Congressman Nick Rahall spoke up at the rally, angry that the EPA has ignored W.Va. yet again.
“The EPA has skipped right over coal country,” Rahall said. “And, in doing so, the EPA is missing out on the whole truth. We refuse to be overlooked. I will not allow us to be forgotten. But this EPA – this biased, anti-coal, geography-challenged EPA – has no plans to step foot in coal country. I have extended invitations. We all have pleaded and prodded. But that mountain is never coming to us. So, we, from coal country, have no choice but to take our message to the mountain.”
And they did just that. Thousands of coal miners from around the nation, including hundreds from W.Va. attended the rally on Wednesday to make their voices heard. They refuse to be bullied by the EPA.
“If these rules are put into place, there is no question - none - electricity rates will skyrocket,” Tomblin said. “It means our manufacturers may again be forced to look overseas for reasonable electric rates - taking with them good paying jobs to countries that do not allow bureaucratic agencies to mandate unilateral restrictions on power production. These rate increases would become an unfair unreasonable financial burden on hardworking people by taking money out of their pockets and causing damaging consequences to our state and national economies.”
According to the Energy Information Agency, the United States is losing 60 gigawatts of coal-powered electricity as a result of the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards, which represented 19 percent of coal capacity at the end of 2012. In addition to these closures, an additional 15 percent reduction in coal plant output challenges our nation’s power grid to meet national energy needs and restricts electricity export opportunities in the nation’s coal-producing regions.
“Growing up in the heart of coal country and as a proud son of the West Virginia coalfields, who continues to make his home there, I see the faces behind these numbers,” Tomblin said. “When the EPA forces mines to close, I know the men and women who lose their jobs, the families who are at risk of losing their homes and the sons and daughters forced to move away to find work.”
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey believes the solution is for coal miners around the nation to band together.
“I think it is critical that the states of West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania form a united front against the EPA’s burdensome and illegal proposed regulation on existing power plants,” Morrisey said. “This shouldn’t be an issue of Democrat versus Republican; all three states are deeply dependent upon coal and the use of coal to power our economy, and not one of the states will emerge from these regulations unscathed. We must ensure that the EPA and the Obama Administration know that we are watching them, and we will fight this illegal regulation in any way we can.”
Morrisey challenged the EPA even further, asking it to withdraw its proposed rule immediately or look forward to a strong, legal opposition.
“We [AGs] are the last line of defense against a federal government that seems to believe the rule of law does not apply to it,” Morrisey said.
But the greatest moment of the day came at the end of Governor Tomblin’s speech. Tomblin recognizes the hard work and dedication coal miners put in. He realizes the necessity of coal for W.Va. and America’s economic well-being. And he knows that it is time to give credit where credit is due.
“Those West Virginians are the real reason I continue to stand up to the EPA - to be their voice and share their struggles with those who need to hear them,” Tomblin said. “We can and must do better for our communities and our families.”
(Photos courtesy of Dave Allen Communications)