Pittsburgh, Pa. – Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant defended West Virginia coal miners, their jobs, and their families today at a public hearing regarding the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s oppressive regulations on the coal industry.
“There is no reason to pit clean air against good-paying jobs. West Virginia can lead the country in developing advanced coal technology that supports both. Work with us, not against us. Instead of attacking coal jobs with regulations, invest in West Virginia and we will deliver the technology to cut emissions without cutting jobs,” Secretary Tennant said as she called on the White House and the EPA to invest in advanced coal technologies that will protect jobs and keep coal strong and competitive for years to come.
Tennant pointed to studies showing that the cost of addressing climate change would double without advanced coal technology and said the White House has dropped the ball when it comes to making the necessary investments to bring advanced coal technology to market.
The EPA held several public hearings this week about the proposed regulations on coal fired-power plants, but none in West Virginia – even after Secretary Tennant criticized the EPA last year for holding no public hearing events in the state.
Last year, Secretary Tennant, who has spent time underground at the Loveridge Mine in Marion County, personally invited EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to West Virginia to witness the harmful impact EPA regulations are having on the coal industry and the state’s economy.
McCarthy still has not visited a West Virginia coal mine or held a public hearing in the state.
Secretary Tennant said by not holding public hearings here, McCarthy has chosen to ignore the impact on West Virginia’s economy and to avoid hearing devastating stories about the negative impact the proposed rule will have on West Virginia families.
“It’s not right that we as West Virginians have to take our message to Pennsylvania in order to be heard,” Secretary Tennant said. “But we will not be ignored. West Virginians mine the coal that keeps America’s lights on and no matter where we have to travel we will make President Obama, Gina McCarthy, and the rest of the EPA hear the voices of West Virginia.”
The EPA Public Hearing was one of four being held across the country – in Atlanta, Denver, and Washington, DC.
Secretary Tennant is encouraging all West Virginians to log on to the EPA’s website and comment on the proposal.
Here is Secretary Tennant's testimony at the EPA hearing:
"Thank you Mr. Garvin, Mr. Wayland and everyone on today’s panel. Thank you to the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) who are preparing to march outside and who work hard to keep the lights on in rooms like this every day.
A couple months ago I visited McBride Electrical in Welch, West Virginia.
Harold McBride and I were talking and I asked him: how would your business be impacted by the regulations on coal-fired power plants?
Harold looked around the room at his workers and said, “Most of these guys would be sent home.”
And that’s why I’m here today. To speak on behalf of Harold, his workers and their families, and all the families across West Virginia and America who depend on coal.
Folks like Mike Payton and Levi Allen outside.
Mike works at the Marion County mine, and his paycheck puts food on the table for his wife Amber and their three children. Levi works at the Marshall County mine. He and his wife Shannon are raising five children – the youngest are twins.
Or Don Luketic. Don and his wife Donna are from my hometown of Fairview, West Virginia. Don retired after more than 40 years in the mines. At 81 years-old, Don is here because he knows that if miners keep losing their jobs, there won’t be any retirement left for folks like him who have literally given their knees, their backs and their shoulders to power America.
As I was preparing to testify today, I was looking through statistics, facts and figures. And it occurred to me: you all don’t need more numbers. You are the experts.
What you don’t seem to understand is those numbers represent people, with mortgages to pay and families to feed.
And that’s why it’s so wrong that West Virginians like Mike, Levi and Don had to travel all the way to Pittsburgh to be heard.
We are less than 100 miles from West Virginia, and after everything our coal miners have given America, you could not make the slightest bit of extra effort to cross the border.
I sat across the table from Administrator McCarthy a year ago and I looked her in the eye and asked her to come to West Virginia – hear our stories and drive our roads. But instead here we are. The White House and the EPA have chosen to snub West Virginia, but West Virginians won’t be ignored.
Whether this Administration chooses to recognize it or not, the fact is: coal powers nearly 40 percent of our electricity in this country. It’s not going anywhere. Trying to squeeze coal out of the energy equation is not only unrealistic, it is dangerous and irresponsible.
There is no reason to pit clean air against good-paying jobs. West Virginia can lead the country in developing advanced coal technology that supports both.
I have seen it firsthand at the National Research Center for Coal and Energy (NRCCE) at West Virginia University and the National Energy Technology Lab (NETL) in Morgantown.
Studies show the costs of addressing climate change would double without advanced coal technology. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) simply must be part of the equation.
Yet, this Administration has dropped the ball when it comes to making the necessary investments to bring CCS technology to market, and these regulations threaten to derail the commercialization of CCS altogether.
We know CCS is imperative. But, the Department of Energy is only investing a fraction of what it spends on research and development in renewable energy and energy efficiency on CCS. Energy efficiency and renewable energy development are worthy investments. But we cannot afford to leave coal out.
I challenge this Administration today to commit to building or retrofitting coal-fired power plants across the country with CCS technology.
There is $8 billion sitting around unused as part of a Department of Energy loan guarantee program already intended for CCS development. Instead of letting that money go to waste, use it to power this bold new initiative.
We can afford to make CCS a reality. We cannot afford not to.
We know China is already investing heavily in advanced coal technologies, and failure to keep up will put America at a competitive disadvantage.
Invest in West Virginia and we will lead the way in CCS technology that can be sold around the world.
Not only will this approach strengthen and protect our coal jobs in West Virginia, it will create a whole new opportunity for American job growth developing and perfecting CCS technology to meet global demand.
As Harold McBride put it, “We are not asking for any handouts. We simply want to be able to use what we have to earn a living.”
Work with us, not against us. Instead of attacking coal jobs with regulations, invest in West Virginia and we will deliver the technology to cut emissions without cutting jobs.