Friday, June 22, 2012

Arch Coal to lay off 650 Appalachian miners, mostly in E.Ky.; blame game begins

Blaming market conditions and regulatory obstacles, Arch Coal announced its intent to lay off about 650 miners -- 500 of those in Eastern Kentucky, 125 in West Virginia and 25 in Virgina. “You’ve got people that are going to lose their homes, lose their livelihood,” Perry County Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble of Hazard, Ky., said of the decision, terming it "a disaster" for the region.

"Some Kentucky officials directly blamed the layoffs on recent actions by the Obama administration and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which have taken a more aggressive stance in recent years to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants and to crack down on water pollution from surface mining," Mike Wynn of The Courier-Journal reportsBut Matt Wasson of the environmental group Appalachian Voices challenged those assertions, saying while Kentucky mining operations have laid off more than 900 workers in recent months, coal companies have attributed nearly all of those cuts to market conditions. “It’s really unfortunate that is how some of the local officials are going to play this,” he said. “That is all about politics. . . . The reality is that four years ago coal supplied half of our electricity. Today it supplies a third. That has enormous consequences."

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