Energy Policy on Many Minds

BEALLSVILLE, Ohio – Katrinka Durig of Sardis works as an accountant for Murray Energy Corp., and she believes the policies of the Obama administration have hurt the coal industry.

She was among many Murray Energy employees attending a rally for presumed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at the company’s Century Mine in Beallsville on Tuesday.

“When he was first elected, he said he would stop coal,” Durig said. “He has done his best to do that. Gov. Romney supports the industry. That’s why we’re all here today – to save our jobs and the economy.”

Paul Moore of Follansbee said during the six years he has been a coal miner, he has witnessed the effects of Obama policies on the industry.

“They are reinterpreting existing laws in an attempt to eliminate the way of life in the Ohio Valley,” he said. “If you look at the clean water regulations they want to impose, bottled water you get in a store would not get a passing grade.”

Indian-born Xinzhi Du now lives in Barnesville and works as a rock mechanic engineer for Murray Energy. He was among those holding signs supporting Romney Tuesday.

“Romney is very good, and Obama is ridiculous for coal,” Du said. “Romney cares more about how coal affects the economy.”

Du said in India, coal-fired power plants have made better use of technology to reduce carbon emissions. He added 70 percent of the coal used in that country is imported from America.

Not all present at the rally were employees of Murray Energy.

Charles Dudley of New Martinsville said the choice between Romney and Obama isn’t going to be an easy one.

“I have a lot of thinking to do,” he said. “One is just as bad as the other.”

He remembers Romney saying in past years that he wouldn’t back any energy source “that kills people, and coal is one of them.”

“I’ve got a lot of soul searching to do,” Dudley added.

Retired steelworker Robert Strain of St. Clairsville said the policies of President Barack Obama “have to go.”

Obama “has said, ‘Build as many coal-fired plants as you want, but our EPA regulations will raise the cost so high you can’t afford to do it,'” Strain said. “He wants to eliminate the coal industry.”

Strain sees electric utility costs rising if electric companies must abandon coal-fired operations.

“Mitt Romney has said he wants us to go in and use all the coal we can,” he continued. “For the economy, that’s a good thing. So many here make a living off of it.”

Freddie Miller lives on a farm in Beallsville and came to the rally with his son, Jay, a Murray Energy employee.

“It’s a once in a lifetime thing,” he said. “I didn’t want to miss it.”

Charity Carroll of Moundsville indicated her concern for the coal industry at the end of Romney’s speech.

“I just hope he can do what he promises,” she said.