UPDATE: Thousands Attend Rally to Protest EPA's Proposed Plan

The Environmental Protection Agency

(Courtesy Photo / United Mine Workers)

UPDATE @ 7/31/14 @ 11:25 a.m.
PITTSBURGH, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Thousands of miners and their families are in downtown Pittsburgh for a rally to protest the proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would restrict the use of coal to generate electricity.

The Environmental Protection Agency's plan aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030, with 2005 levels as the starting point.

Governor Earl Tomblin has said none of the state's coal plants are close to meeting the proposed standard, although companies say they're cutting emissions. Tomblin said the coal industry can be cleaned up and continue to thrive in our region, but it has to be a collaborative effort on every front.

The EPA is holding hearings Thursday and Friday on the proposed stricter regulations.

While the proposals are up in the air, miners in our region are frustrated and worried. They're wondering what new regulations would do to their livelihood.

"It is beyond belief that the EPA would refuse to hold one of its public hearings in the coalfields where the people who will be most adversely affected by this proposed rule live and work," said UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts. "We believe that EPA still can and should hold a hearing in the coalfields, but since they have not scheduled one yet, we decided to bring the coalfields to them."

West Virginia is the second-biggest U.S. coal producer after Wyoming.

More than 2,000 union workers and others attended the rally Wednesday In Pittsburgh, including Governor Tomblin.



UPDATE 7/30/14 @ 5:40 p.m.
PITTSBURGH (WSAZ) -- Thousands of people supporting the coal industry flooded Pittsburgh for a rally against stronger Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

This comes just a day before public hearings start there. They've already started in Denver, Washington D.C., and Atlanta, and many people have spoken passionately on the matter.

West Virginia is the nation's second-biggest coal producer, and Kentucky comes in at number three.

Coal supporters gathered Wednesday at the Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh to share their concerns about job losses and higher electricity costs, from new regulations.

They were joined by West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Ohio's Lieutenant Governor, other politicians and representatives from labor groups.

Tomblin said the coal industry can be cleaned up and continue to thrive in our region, but it has to be a collaborative effort on every front.

"We all want a clean environment, but you've got to work with us," he said.

The proposed regulations take aim at coal power plants as the EPA looks to cut emissions by 30 percent.

While the proposals are up in the air, miners in our region are frustrated and worried. They're wondering what new regulations would do to their livelihood.

A coal miner from Boone County, West Virginia, said the government needs to listen to the people who thrive in the coalfields.

"I think we just need to let them know, keep their hands off our jobs," said Dennis Adkins.

Adkins spends a lot of time in the mines of Boone County to support his family. But he fears stronger EPA regulations on coal power plants could mean his job will disappear.

"Let's use a little bit of common sense. You know, coal's not going to be here forever, natural gas is not going to be here forever, but we need to work with all of what we have," he said.

Adkins is one of thousands who've embarked on a trip to Pittsburgh to rally against tighter rules, one day before public hearings on the matter begin.

Even state leaders joined the effort, asking for more time and flexibility.

"Show the faces of what coal miners and coal miners' families look like and what effects some of the new air quality standards they're proposing will have on these families throughout the Appalachian region,” Tomblin said.

He said the impacts will be felt hard. He estimates everything from higher electricity bills to destructive effects on small business.

"That’s what’s great is to be able to have the kind of energy we need for manufacturing, for shipbuilding, for heating and cooling our homes," he said.

Tomblin said the EPA's proposed regulations would mean many coal power plants would close and the industry in our region would suffer.

"Our big fear is carbon-based fuel and at some point, the same thing is going to try to be applied to the plants using natural gas," he said.

The governor said 90 percent of the state's energy comes from coal.

"It's going to cost us our jobs, it's going to cost America lots of jobs,” he said.

He said about 60 percent is exported to the northeast.

The governor said the only solution is to work together.

"The best case scenario would be the EPA could work with states to help develop technology where we could burn coal in a clean and efficient manner,” Tomlin said.

Miners are depending on that kind of collaborative work to keep them afloat.

"We can develop, we can clean it up a little, we've cleaned it up tremendously, and we can clean it up a lot more, but let's use common sense,” Adkins said.

More than 5,000 miners and coal supporters are expected to march in downtown Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Those who support the stronger regulations are planning a counter-rally of their own. Many of them said the tougher rules will spark new jobs in green energy.

Tomblin also said many West Virginia counties benefit from coal mining. He said every county gets a portion of the severance tax.

Those dollars go to help with environmental protection road construction and other costs that come from mining.



UPDATE 7/30/14 @ 12:50 p.m.
PITTSBURGH (WSAZ) -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin joined hundreds of coal miners and coal supporters at an electricity and energy jobs rally in Pittsburgh Wednesday.

The rally was aimed at raising awareness over proposed changes to federal rules about pollution discharged by coal-fired power plants.

Tomblin, was one of three governors who spoke to the crowd about the importance of coal.

"We should be working together toward energy independence, not obstructing our nation's energy production," Governor Tomblin said. "If new rules are approved, electricity rates will skyrocket. Manufacturers will be forced to look overseas, taking good jobs with them."

The Environmental Protection Agency's plan aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030, with 2005 levels as the starting point.

Tomblin has said none of the state's coal plants are close to meeting the proposed standard, although companies say they're cutting emissions.

"Hardworking West Virginians are why I will continue to stand up to the EPA," Tomblin said. "Our communities and families deserve better. When rules force mines and plants to close, I know the families at risk of losing their homes and those forced to move away to find work. "

According to a news release, EPA is having a public hearing for the proposed Clean Power Plan rule in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

More than 5000 members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, the Utility Workers Union of America, along with railway workers, their families and supporters are expected in Pittsburgh Thursday for a rally and march in downtown Pittsburgh protesting a proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would restrict the use of coal to generate electricity.

"It is beyond belief that the EPA would refuse to hold one of its public hearings in the coalfields where the people who will be most adversely affected by this proposed rule live and work," said UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts. "We believe that EPA still can and should hold a hearing in the coalfields, but since they have not scheduled one yet, we decided to bring the coalfields to them."

West Virginia is the second-biggest U.S. coal producer after Wyoming.

More than 2,000 union workers and others attended the rally Wednesday.



UPDATE @ 11:30 a.m.
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- More than 2,000 union workers and others organized by the coal industry in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are rallying in Pittsburgh to oppose new proposed pollution regulations.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett told reporters before speaking to the crowd in a minor league soccer stadium Wednesday that a clean environment is important. But he said environmental regulations on coal-fired power plants have to strike a balance with the state's energy needs.

Corbett said if the regulations lead to closure of too many power plants, there may not be enough electricity for residents of the commonwealth.

The Environmental Protection Agency is holding hearings Thursday and Friday on the proposed stricter regulations.



ORIGINAL STORY
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ & AP) -- West Virginia officials are set to join hundreds of coal miners and coal supporters at an electricity and energy jobs rally.

The rally is scheduled for Wednesday at Pittsburgh's Highmark Stadium.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, Ohio Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, labor leaders and others are scheduled to participate. The rally will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at West Station Square Drive.

Buses picked up miners and supporters in Beckley, Logan, Charleston, Julian, Morgantown and Danville early Wednesday morning to go to the rally and hundreds more will be driving to the event on their own.

Officials say the rally is aimed at raising awareness over proposed changed to federal rules about pollution discharged by coal-fired power plants.

The Environmental Protection Agency's plan aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030, with 2005 levels as the starting point.

Tomblin has said none of the state's coal plants are close to meeting the proposed standard, although companies say they're cutting emissions.

According to a news release, EPA is having a public hearing for the proposed Clean Power Plan rule in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

More than 5000 members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, the Utility Workers Union of America, along with railway workers, their families and supporters are expected in Pittsburgh Thursday for a rally and march in downtown Pittsburgh protesting a proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would restrict the use of coal to generate electricity.

"It is beyond belief that the EPA would refuse to hold one of its public hearings in the coalfields where the people who will be most adversely affected by this proposed rule live and work," said UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts. "We believe that EPA still can and should hold a hearing in the coalfields, but since they have not scheduled one yet, we decided to bring the coalfields to them."

West Virginia is the second-biggest U.S. coal producer after Wyoming.


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