Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Obama's Attacks on the Coal Industry are Hurting Virginia

George Allen today released the following statement regarding Alpha Natural Resources’ announcement of three coal mine closures in Virginia:

“I’m saddened to hear of three more coal mines closing in Virginia because I know how much these jobs mean to families and all the hard-working people in Southwest Virginia. These closures will harm jobs for all the contractors and suppliers of the mine operations. This will have a detrimental effect on railroad jobs and all Virginians may have to ultimately pay higher electricity bills. Unfortunately, these mine closures are only the latest examples of how Washington’s regulatory assault on coal is turning Virginia’s coalfield communities into ghost towns. The political appointees of the unelected, unaccountable EPA are effectively banning coal through excessive, overreaching regulations that are forcing coal mines to shut down. My opponent’s advice on energy regulations is ‘don’t try to weaken’ them, while he has championed a Cap-and-Trade energy tax scheme that would further eliminate coal jobs and cause electricity prices to skyrocket. As a friend of coal, I am committed to standing up for the hard-working people of Southwest Virginia and ending Washington’s assault on coal that is hurting Virginia jobs, families and communities.”


Anonymous said...

Oh come on. The glut of cheap natural gas is the reason it's no longer as economically viable to mine coal for power production. Fracking has been a huge domestic success story and will shortly turn us back into natural gas exporters. EPA regs might make some marginal difference, but as in all other instances, the market is the primary mover of economic actors.

The Virginia Gentleman said...

Anonymous, Thanks for the comment. You describe EPA regulations as marginal, perhaps that might provide some comfort for executives at Alpha. I read this quote from the RTD article, while companies like his face "a regulatory environment that's aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal."


Anonymous said...

Which is what he can affect through public statements, so he does. But just as the stone age didn't end through a lack of stone - or government anti-stone regulation, the reason coal is less profitable is that there's a cheaper product on the market right now.

I understand why the Alpha executives are trying to move policy the way they are, but they just need to find a way to compete in their new environment.

The Virginia Gentleman said...

Hey anonymous, thanks for the response. Those Alpha executives will say anything. Don’t you think the regulatory assault on coal effects the price? In March the EPA announced new limits on carbon emissions for new coal power plants. Under the new standard, emissions can not exceed 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity produced. To achieve such a standard would be difficult, and to make the upgrades, if it is technologically possible, would be very costly.

Second, existing plants. In 2008 the EPA cited a study which claimed that entire orders of ‘Aquatic insects’ were being wiped out by downstream mining operations. I thought killing insects was a good thing, but I guess the administration is more concerned about protecting insects than the coal industry. Oh well, that is just another way they can make coal more expensive.

Editors note: The May edition of Virginia Business has an article on the coal industry and it talks about natural gas and “fracking”. You might want to read it.