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A report by the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee of the U.S. Senate indicates thousands of West Virginia jobs are endangered by the EPA’s continuing withholding of mining permits across the state.
 
According to the report, entitled “The Obama Administration’s Obstruction of Coal Mining Permits in Appalachia,” the EPA’s policies threaten almost 6,000 mining jobs as well as some $217 million in tax revenues for the state. In addition, the report indicates that on a regional basis, the EPA obstruction endangers more than 160,000 jobs.
 
In fact, the report indicates the EPA’s action is only part of a “broader agenda” to “drastically curtail coal mining in Appalachia.” 
 

By William Yeatman

Just because coal is an inanimate object doesn't mean President Obama's war on coal avoids human casualties. I witnessed the collateral damage to coal-dependent communities on Tuesday at the Charleston Civic Center in West Virginia, where hundreds of people gathered to demand that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spare their livelihoods.

In Mr. Obama's war on coal, the most intensive front has been waged against a particular kind of mining, known as mountain-top removal (MTR). It involves blowing off the top of mountains to get at the underlying coal seams, and it is essential for the Appalachian coal industry's competitiveness vis-a-vis growing production west of the Mississippi. But it is anathema to environmentalists, a major constituency within the president's Democratic Party.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held a public hearing this past Tuesday on the Spruce #1 mine permit, first issued in 2007, in apparent preparation to veto the permit. The hearing was held at the Charleston Civic Center and drew approximately 900 people with nearly 100 making comments.

It is estimated that the crowd was approximately 80 percent pro-permit and 20 percent anti-permit. The same proportions were seen among those making comments.

Prior to the event the Friends of Coal and FACES co-hosted a rally to support the permit and the Appalachian coal mining industry.

The rally was attended by almost 300 people and guests included Governor Joe Manchin, Congressman Nick Rahall, President of the State Senate and Lieutenant Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, Speaker of the House of Delegates Rick Thompson, the majority leaders from both houses and several State Senators and Delegates, 1st District Congressional Candidate Mike Oliverio, 3rd District Congressional Candidate Elliot “Spike” Maynard, representatives of the office of Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, West Virginia Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts, Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett, representatives from the Ohio Coal Association and the Virginia Mining Association, elected officials from several West Virginia and Kentucky counties, representatives of numerous chambers of commerce and trade associations throughout the West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia and Maryland, numerous miners and their families, members of the Citizens Advisory Panel (CAP) and others.

The event drew news media from around the state, the nation and the world, including a television crew from ZDF or German television.  Prior to the event, the Friends of Coal and FACES successfully placed earned and paid media mentions in radio, television and print throughout the region, including a 30-minute interview with WV Coal Association President Bill Raney, members of CAP and others on the WOWK-TV show “Decision Makers.”

We believe the event was a true success and provided an excellent show of support for the industry in West Virginia and across Appalachia.

Earlier this week the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) released its proposed revisions to the state’s water quality standards rule, 47 CSR 2.  The revisions include a proposal to establish a 500 TDS limit for drinking water sources (as a human health criterion), changes to the state’s narrative criteria that add certain water withdrawal situations and excessive algae blooms as “conditions not allowable”, changes to the nutrient criteria and revisions to the iron standards for classified trout waters.  The revisions to the rule have not started the official rulemaking process- that will begin next week with their submission to the WVDEP Advisory Council.  A 45-day public comment period will follow.  The revisions will be reviewed by the Legislature during the 2011 Regular Session and will ultimately have to be reviewed and approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.  For a copy of the proposed revisions contact jbostic@wvcoal.com

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has named the members of its Advisory Panel on the ecological effects of coal mining in Appalachia.  Referred to as the Science Advisory Board (SAB), the panel will assist EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) in preparing a scientific assessment of the ecological impacts related to mountaintop mining and valley-fill operations.  The evaluation is tied to EPA’s continuing regulatory focus on coal mining in Central Appalachia such as the April 1, 2010 “guidance” on application of the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act to mining permit applications.  More information on the SAB panel, including a list of members can be found at http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/SABPRODUCT.NSF/81e39f4c09954fcb85256ead006be86e/acd3a1af5c7138e785257625006c891e!OpenDocument

For additional information contact jbostic@wvcoal.com


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