Coal Backers Hold Major Rally to Protest EPA Regulations

National Journal
Clare Foran
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Clare Foran
Oct. 29, 2013, 9:41 a.m.

Sev­er­al thou­sand work­ers from the coal and min­ing in­dustry and their fam­il­ies con­verged on the west lawn of the Cap­it­ol build­ing Tues­day to protest the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency’s green­house-gas reg­u­la­tions. 

The event, or­gan­ized by Count on Coal, a grass­roots coal-ad­vocacy group, brought to­geth­er law­makers and coal work­ers from states like West Vir­gin­ia, Ken­tucky, and Ohio, which are likely to be hard hit by EPA’s reg­u­la­tions on coal-fired power plants.

“The coal busi­ness is really hurt­ing be­cause of what Obama’s done and we’re just try­ing to make a state­ment,” said Steve Mor­ton, a 62-year-old work­er at a pre­par­a­tion plant for a coal mine op­er­ated by Ke­nAmer­ic­an Re­sources in Ken­tucky. 

“They want to put coal out of busi­ness is what they want to do,” he ad­ded. “They’re do­ing their best to put reg­u­la­tions in place that nobody can af­ford.”

A num­ber of law­makers spoke at the rally, in­clud­ing Reps. Shel­ley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Nick Ra­hall, D-W.Va., along with Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell, R-Ky.

Many of them, in­clud­ing Capito, Paul, and Mc­Con­nell, ral­lied around what has now be­come a well-worn battle cry of the coal in­dustry — the idea that Pres­id­ent Obama is wa­ging a war on coal.

“When coal suf­fers, it’s not just the miners who suf­fer “¦ it’s the truck driver, it’s the waiter, it’s the teach­er, it’s our rail­roads,” Capito said, to cheers. “Make no mis­take: This is a war on coal. This is a war on Amer­ic­an jobs.”

Paul sim­il­arly slammed the White House when he took to the stage amid con­sid­er­able ap­plause.

“I just got back from the moun­tains of Ken­tucky,” he said. “It’s not a re­ces­sion. It’s a de­pres­sion out there and I blame one man for this — Pres­id­ent Barack Obama.”

Oth­ers, such as Ra­hall, were crit­ic­al of pro­posed reg­u­la­tions to lim­it car­bon emis­sions from coal-fired power plants, but stopped short of point­ing the fin­ger dir­ectly at the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“You know, where I come from in the heart of West Vir­gin­ia coal coun­try, if you step across the line in someone else’s back­yard and you chal­lenge them to a fight, you stick around and you duke it out,” Ra­hall said. “We be­lieve in a fair fight. But not this EPA, that’s not what they be­lieve in. This EPA has been throw­ing reg­u­lat­ory stones, cir­cum­vent­ing the Con­gress and snub­bing its nose at the leg­al pro­cess.”

The rally comes as part of a ma­jor push this week against the EPA reg­u­la­tions, in­clud­ing draft le­gis­la­tion re­leased by Rep. Ed Whit­field, R-Ky., and Manchin to block pro­posed EPA reg­u­la­tions on green­house-gas emis­sions from new power plants and grant Con­gress au­thor­ity to de­cide when a rule-mak­ing for ex­ist­ing plants would take ef­fect. A sep­ar­ate hear­ing will ex­am­ine the im­pact of EPA reg­u­la­tions on coal com­munit­ies.

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