CHARLESTON, W.Va. – In its most impactful decision to date for the nation’s energy security and stability, the Trump Administration has proposed repealing the so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP), and West Virginia’s coal companies could not be more elated.

“This administration continues to live up to the promises it made to the people in our coalfields,” said West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney. “We have been saying for years that the Clean Power Plan was a totally unworkable concept that would cause nothing but devastation for West Virginia’s economy while it forcibly reshaped the country’s electrical grid. With today’s announcement, we see the incredible value that comes with the Trump administration’s pragmatic review of previous environmental policies.”

In its official filing to repeal the Obama-era Clean Power Plan regulations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the CPP requirements extend beyond what can be achieved by the country’s electric generators and exceed the statutory authority granted to EPA. Furthermore, EPA says it intends to “avoid potentially transformative economic, policy and political significance in the absence of a clear Congressional statement of intent to confer such authority on the Agency.”

Raney said West Virginia’s coal industry is continuing to enjoy a more robust market than it did just a year ago at this time, and repealing the CPP will provide even more market security for the coal industry. He said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and the West Virginia Legislature should be commended for their efforts over the last several years to combat the previous administration’s anti-coal policies and help West Virginia coal compete in the marketplace.

“All we ever have asked for is a level playing field, and repealing the CPP goes a long way toward achieving that goal,” Raney said.

Below is a letter I have sent to Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions regarding President Trump’s nomination of West Virginian – and Wheeling resident – David Zatezalo to be the new leader of the Mine Safety and Health Administration under the U.S. Department of Labor. I hope both of West Virginia’s senators – Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito – support to the fullest possible the nomination of a fellow West Virginian to such an important federal position. Mr. Zatezalo is eminently qualified for the position and would be a proud representation of the Mountain State in the Trump administration.

Dear Chairman Alexander:

I'm writing in support of the nomination of David G. Zatezalo, who has been nominated by President Trump to lead the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration under the US Department of Labor.David Zatezalo has demonstrated his competency and overall qualification throughout his 40 years of experience in the coal mining industry.From his earlier days as a UMW member and laborer to his most recent position heading up a major coal company, David has demonstrated his knowledge of mining many times over and when you add his technical training from the nation's leading mine engineering school – West Virginia University -- his experience level is unprecedented and uniquely qualifies him for this position.

As a supervisor and mine manager, David undeniably had the best interest and ensured the utmost safety for every mine worker and all fellow employees. Throughout his four (4) decades of mining, he has additionally acquired expertise in mine emergency, first responder and mine rescue applications and has earned the highest level of respect by his mining peers.  

David knows mining. He is extremely competent and extraordinarily suited to lead our nation's coal mine health and safety programs and resources. 

As a native West Virginian, he would make all of West Virginia and every miner proud to have him serve in the position of Assistant Secretary for Labor, Mine Safety and Health.

Sincerely,

Chris R. Hamilton
Senior Vice President, West Virginia Coal Association
Senior Member, West Virginia Coal Mine Health & Safety Board
Senior Member, West Virginia Mine Safety & Technical Review Committee

By Chris Hamilton
Co-chairman, West Virginia Coal Forum
Senior Vice President, West Virginia Coal Association

Morgantown City Council is starting down a dangerous path.

In late June, the Council began consideration of a resolution to have the city of Morgantown support the Paris Climate Accord’s overall emissions reduction goals.

This action flies in the face of what is best for West Virginia and the nation. Let’s remember that President Donald Trump officially paused American compliance with the Accord while he renegotiates better terms for our country.

If the resolution ultimately passes, Morgantown will join other cities that have taken independent action on climate change via the Paris Accord regardless of the economic consequences.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – An uptick in the state business index can be attributed mostly to the state’s coal industry, and the West Virginia Coal is thanking state lawmakers for helping the industry survive recent years of austerity.

According to a recent report by West Virginia University, the Mountain State Business Index jumped 0.3 percent in August, marking the index's 11th month-to-month gain over the past 13 months. Coal production accounted for the majority of the 0.3 percent increase in the MSBI, thanks to a 3.9 percent jump in output from the previous month.

“Thanks to the West Virginia Legislature, which has passed each component of the Coal Jobs and Safety Act over the past few years, our industry has been able to weather the regulatory storm that came out of Washington for eight years,” said Coal Association President Bill Raney. “Now that we have a more favorable attitude towards the coal industry at the federal level, we have renewed confidence that West Virginia’s coalfields will continue to play a major role in the state’s economic growth.”

chris2017U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s recent visit to West Virginia serves to underscore the importance of West Virginia coal to President Donald Trump and his administration and another step toward ensuring that West Virginia coal remains the centerpiece of our state’s economy and to reap economic benefits for years to come.

While standing in front of Longview Power Plant, the nation’s most modern and cleanest burning coal-fired plant (yes, in West Virginia), Secretary Perry touted the importance of coal and coal-fired electricity to “base-load” generation and to national security.

 Last November's election of Trump represented a defining moment for our great state and for the West Virginia coal industry. This new leadership recognizes our natural resources as valuable assets, and they have pledged to aggressively advance policies designed to promote and foster full development of our energy industries. In a few short months, President Trump has effectively halted major anti-coal regulations created by President Obama from going into effect. Rest assured these rules, including the Stream Buffer Zone rule, the Clean Power Plan, Waters of the United States rule and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, would have decimated the industry as we know it today.

After enduring years of flat economic growth, subsidies for competitive fuels and perhaps most importantly, a president who used every resource and federal agency to work against coal production, the new direction offered by President Trump and Secretary Perry is a welcomed and refreshing change.

With these policy actions by President Trump, we’ve already seen renewed confidence and interest in West Virginia coal from the investment community toward financing coal mining operations. We also have experienced a modest uptick in pricing levels and growth in metallurgical coal operations. Miners previously furloughed have been called back to work and a few new mines have opened during this same period. Coalfield residents are seeing coal being trucked and moving again by rail and barge, and just like music to their ears, it is being equated to good times and job opportunities.

Whether or not these favorable trends can be sustained going forward depends largely on our ability to partner with our federal government to maximize the opportunities in front of us as they take the reins off our domestic energy assets and the policies that govern them.

As coal markets begin to blossom, we must be prepared to move quickly and offer the finest quality coal, produced by the best miners in the world, at the lowest price possible. A more competitive tax structure and a continued modernization of mining rules are just two macro-level policies we should pursue.


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