Monday, November 21, 2011

Coal mining jobs in Appalachia increase despite industry concern about federal 'war on coal'

Mining jobs in Appalachia have increased by 10 percent since the Environmental Protection Agency intensified efforts to reign in mountaintop removal mining in 2009, according to Mine Safety and Health Administration data. The current 59,059 jobs in the region are the most since 1997, reports Ken Ward Jr. of The Charleston Gazette. This data runs counter to complaints about the Obama Administration's "war on coal" eliminating coal mine jobs.

United Mine Workers spokesman Phil Smith told Ward the union has seen more jobs for union members in Northern Appalachia and Alabama. Though mountaintop-removal mines are in Central Appalachian and most are non-union, the UMW says it hasn't seen job loss at unionized surface mines. Whether or not those mines will see losses depends on the extension or renewal of permits, which could be blocked by EPA. Ward reports that West Virginia operator Alpha Natural Resources isn't worried about permitting problems, citing comments from CEO Kevin Crutchfield in which he said "there's nothing in 2012 that is contingent upon any sort of regulatory relaxation or need."

Ward reports "the current increase in jobs comes amid government projections that coal production in Central Appalachia, meaning Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky, will decline rapidly through the rest of the decade." He writes that West Virginia University law professor Pat McGinley told a U.S. House subcommittee there is evidence that one form of stricter regulations might actually increase jobs. He asked the subcommittee to see "why federal and state agencies have not enforced post-mining land development requirements for mountaintop-removal mining operations if they're concerned about coalfield jobs." (Read more)

2 comments:

Senator Kathy Stein said...

It would seem that after a number of evidence-based studies show that the "war on coal" is manufactured by slick PR firms hired by the industry, that public policy makers in VA, KY and W.VA would begin to pay attention.

Guess it will take a long time though, for legislators funded by the industry to begin to read these studies objectively, rather than accusing the reporters of actual peer-reviewed academic studies as flunkies for the greenies.

Here in KY we now know how harmful MTR is to the environment and all who live there- especially women of child-bearing age and their pregnancies.

What acute irony that the KY legislators who protect the industry are also the ones who absolutely demand that they be allowed to vote on every bill restricting a woman's right to determine her reproduction.

On the one hand, an egg fertilized by sperm within a woman's body is subject to homicide statutes if assaulted by a person who drives an automobile and causes the death of the fertilized egg.

On the other hand, a woman of child-bearing age in the mining coalfields, whose fertilized egg is miscarried, is out of luck because no one in the region is going to actually study the link between toxins produced by splitting a mountain wide open and how the water poisoned by that violent explosion affects the fetus.

And certainly, any child born in the region with handicaps is another one of those "acts of God" that no corporation/person can be held responsible according to their insurance policies.

Those in the Occupy Wall Street movement should study the complete annihilation of families, communities and local governments in the coalfields by the barons who began the theft of wealth and continue it today in the guise of benevolent job producers.

It's a crock. A huge crock.

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