Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Coal industry supporters rally in D.C.

  (Photo by Associated Press
 Hundreds of people rallied in Washington, D.C., Wednesday in support of the coal industry. "Those who plan to participate say the federal government needs a reminder of how important the hard-working people of Appalachia are to the nation," reports Debra McCown of the Bristol Herald Courier. Many in the region are concerned that coal is "under attack" as "some new regulations apply exclusively to the six Appalachian states, excluding Western states with large amounts of mining," McCown writes. (It should be noted that the region is targeted because the regulations are aimed at mountaintop-removal mining.)

"The reason we’re going to Washington is to stop this administration we’ve got now from closing our coal mines down," Jennings Webb, a retired mine foreman who worked for four decades in the mines. "They are wanting to put us out of business, and they don’t have the common sense enough to know every time they turn the light on in the White House, they think the electricity comes out of the wall. It doesn’t. It is generated by coal." Buses from southwest Virginia and eastern Kentucky took industry supporters to the rally, across the street from the Russell Senate Office Building. The industry group Faces of Coal paid for most of the travel and lodging expenses for the coal miners who attended the rally, according to the Associated Press.

Glen Besa, director of the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, noted Western mining states face other regulations to protect water quality there."The environmental community has nothing personal against miners at all," Besa said. "People who are dependent on the coal industry are obviously concerned about changes, but there is a critical need to diversify the economies in these areas because in fact every year the number of people employed in the coal industry declines, and it has nothing to do with the Obama administration or the environmental community." (Read more)

The Associated Press reported that Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said to the rally, "This administration is trying to shut down coal and fire all of you," adding that the EPA was practicing "strangulation by regulation," referring to the Obama administration's efforts to stifle mountaintop removal mining. A rival rally is planned for later in the day by opponents of mountaintop mining. (Read more)

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