UPDATE 11/7/13 @ 3 p.m.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSAZ) -- For a second time, U.S. Senator Mitch Mcconnell from Kentucky has invited the EPA to hold a listening session in Pikeville.
McConnell and Bill Patton, of James River Coal, attended an EPA listening session Thursday in Washington D.C.
During the session, Senator McConnell said, "It is my understanding these sessions are intended to gather stakeholder input on what people think about future carbon regulations on existing power plants. However, I couldn't help but notice these sessions are scheduled only for states where coal does not have a large presence, like California and Massachusetts."
McConnell said he has asked the EPA to hold a hearing in Pikeville to hear the concerns but said, "Since the EPA hasn't responded, I decided-on behalf of Kentucky's coal miners and their families-that I would bring their concerns to you myself. If the EPA won't come to listen to us, we'll come here, to the EPA."
"By now it is clear that this administration and your agency have declared a War on Coal. For Kentucky, this means a war on jobs and our state's economy," McConnell said.
"The president has outright stated his intentions for the coal industry. He has said, and I quote: 'If somebody wants to build a coal power plant, they can-it's just that it will bankrupt them.' But before you do, you're going to hear from us. Coal employs more than 13,000 people in Kentucky. Coal jobs pay more than one billion dollars in wages to Kentuckians every year. Coal is crucial to affordable, independent energy for our nation. That's why we're here to remind you that coal keeps the lights on for Kentucky-and the nation."
Senator McConnell also invited Brian Patton of Kentucky to attend the hearing to speak for Kentucky coal miners today. Brian is currently the president of service at the James River Coal Service Company.
"Where I work in Eastern Kentucky is currently facing a depression. The EPA needs to come to coal country where they can hear from the thousands of Kentucky families that will be negatively impacted by any further regulations on coal and coal-dependent industries," said Patton.
Also Thursday, James River Coal Service Company announced it's third major layoff of 2013. To read more, click the link below.
On Thursday, the EPA announced it was postponing field hearings on the issue due to the government shutdown.
Those hearings are scheduled in San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, Seattle, Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C.
McConnell says none the hearings are scheduled for the three largest coal producing states: Wyoming, West Virginia and Kentucky.
In his letter to the EPA, Senator McConnell wrote: “I request the EPA host an additional listening session in Pikeville, Kentucky, which is located in the heart of coal country. Pikeville is certainly much more representative of those who work in the coal industry than San Francisco… A Pikeville meeting would bring much needed balance to the listening sessions.”
Also Thursday, McConnell commented on the future of the Big Sandy power plant in Louisa.
“The recent news out of eastern Kentucky is another devastating reminder of the Obama Administration's war on coal and Kentucky jobs,” Senator McConnell said. “The shutdown of the coal-fired units at the Big Sandy facility will result in more coal-related job losses and will further weaken eastern Kentucky’s economy.”