Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

October 15, 2009

Coal supporters seek answers

(Continued)



Pochick admitted that he is biased on behalf of the coal industry, but pointed out that 40 percent of West Virginia’s coal production comes from surface mines, and that coal’s economic impact on almost every aspect of the state is vital.

“With the lack of new nuclear plants, new coal-fired power plants and tighter restrictions on coal mining permits, I just don’t know where this country is going to get its energy from,” Pochick said. “The EPA can say anything, but their actions belie their words. They want to suspend the Nationwide Permit 21 and that would further delay the process.”

In the meantime, other federal, state and regional lawmakers are working to preserve coal mining jobs. On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Frederick C. “Rick” Boucher, D-Va., submitted a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, asking them to consider a three tiered permitting system to replace the NP 21 permits that would protect the environment “while allowing essential coal mining activities that support economic growth to continue,”

West Virginia State Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, D-Logan, wrote a letter to Jackson urging her to expedite the decision. “We have every right to wonder and worry if coal mining will be part of our future as it has been a part of our past,” Tomblin wrote to Jackson.

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority approved a 5.6 million grant for the development of the Southern Gap Regional Business Park in Buchanan County, but also passed a resolution in support of the coal industry’s use of the NO 21 permits in the Appalachian region.

“In the 20 years this organization has helped bring new industries and diversification to the region, the coal mining industry remains the single most important economic engine in the region, providing thousands of direct and indirect jobs and highly critical economic impacts,” VCEDA chair Jay Rife was quoted in a press release as stating.

– Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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