WHEELING - Local politicians and coal industry leaders think much of the country is in the dark about how important coal is to energy production, and some suggest electric companies power down for a day to make the point.
Federal and state representatives were among those speaking at the West Virginia Coal Forum on Wednesday at Oglebay Park's Wilson Lodge. Those present discussed new regulations on coal-fired electric plants being proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and why leaders must work to "Stop the EPA's War on Coal."
"I have an idea ... maybe the power companies should just turn their switch off for a day," said Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio. "Then maybe the world would understand the importance of coal."
Photo by Joselyn King
Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, left, and Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., participate in the West Virginia Coal Forum Wednesday at Oglebay Park’s Wilson Lodge.
West Virginia Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, suggested a specific day for an organized power outage.
"Let's shut down electrical plants on Superbowl Sunday," he said. "If people couldn't watch their televisions, they would realize the influence West Virginia plays on the energy of the nation."
Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., said the nation would "better understand what the middle class is up against" as the EPA seeks to impose new rules setting environmental standards he said no existing coal-fired power plant can achieve.
One of these rules would classify fly ash - a byproduct of burning coal - as a hazardous substance, he noted. McKinley has placed an amendment in the proposed federal transportation bill rejecting the rule.
"There is more mercury in a can of tuna than in a can of fly ash," he said. "There is trace arsenic in all foods. There is arsenic in apple juice. Do we get rid of apple juice?"
Chris Hamilton, senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association, urged the public to contact their legislators in support of three pieces of legislation pertaining to the coal industry presently before Congress:
- House Resolution 3409 - Introduced by Johnson, it would prohibit the Secretary of the Interior from issuing or approving any regulation that would adversely impact employment in coal mines in the United States.
- House Resolution 2018 - Among other stipulations, the bill would require the EPA administrator, before issuing new environmental rules, to analyze the impact of rules on domestic employment and economic activity.
- House Resolution 2401 - Would requires the president to establish a Committee for the Cumulative Analysis of Regulations that Impact Energy and Manufacturing in the United States.