Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 10, 2012

Coal industry leaders encouraged by post-election coalfield unity

BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — During several weeks leading up to Tuesday’s general election, several coalfield activities drew thousands of people making a case for coal. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy, was among the groups that stood in vocal support of the industry.

“The 2012 election will be remembered as the campaign  for coal,” Mike Duncan, president and chief executive officer of the ACCCE stated. Duncan provided the organization’s post-election thoughts and future outlook for coal. “Millions of coal voters have been activated and will be an important presence not just in this election, but in the years to come.”

The coalition was established in 2008, and is a partnership of industries that produce electricity from coal, a group that includes American Electric Power, Alpha Natural Resources, Norfolk Southern Corporation, Caterpillar and many more.

“These voters will be watching lawmakers and the next President carefully and will demand that the (Environmental Protection Agency) stop its attacks on coal based electricity,” Duncan stated.

“There was so much talk about jobs during the election that we hope against hope that the federal government will let us go back to work in the West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia region of the Appalachian Mountain region and mine coal,” Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association said. “I have said this many times before, but it bears repeating that we have the best coal miners in the world in the Appalachian region.

“Every day, they work in one of the most challenging jobs in the world,” Raney said. “They work in a confined environment that requires camaraderie, teamwork, cooperation and uncommon horse sense to do a job that requires skill, training and focus.

“Coal means more to the state of West Virginia than just severance tax and more than a lifestyle,” Raney said. “This part of the country has done a pretty good job of carrying us through the Industrial Revolution and of making this nation the strongest nation in the world.

“If the federal government continues on the path that it was on over the past 3 and one-half years, it will hurt the coal industry, but it will also hit everyone in this state through higher utility bills,” Raney said. “Those higher utility bills won’t be just here in West Virginia. Everyone in the nation will be paying higher electric bills to pay for these alternative energy sources.”

Raney said that higher utility bills nationwide will have the greatest impact on people who can least afford to pay those bills. “It will all come back on the shoulders and the backs of the consumers,” Raney said. “At some point, there has to be a real discussion about how much we can afford.”

He said that with the levels of support for Romney enjoyed throughout West Virginia, in western Pennsylvania, southeastern Ohio and western Virginia encouraged him. “It was amazing how unified the people of coal country were,” he said.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com