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Mining supporters head to D.C.
by Matt Murphy
For the Daily Mail
June 20, 2012
Photo by Marcus Constantino
Members of the Logan-based coal advocacy group Citizens for Coal fill a bus to Washington to meet with Sen. Joe Manchin and other representatives in the U.S. Capitol. The group is fighting an Environmental Protection Agency requirement that coal- and oil-fired power plants control mercury and other emissions.
WASHINGTON - They're concerned about jobs. They're concerned about providing for their families. They're concerned about the future of coal mining in West Virginia.
They're concerned enough to make a one-day trip on a bus from Logan to Washington, D.C., to meet with Sen. Joe Manchin to voice their support for a bill that would stop the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing its new Mercury and Air Toxic Standards Rule, which is scheduled for a vote today.
(UPDATE: Senators voted 46-53 vote against Sen. James Inhofe's (R-Okla.) resolution.)
The 45 coal miners, family members and supporters who made the trek on Tuesday were all from southern West Virginia - specifically Boone, Logan and Mingo counties - some of the top coal-producing counties in the state.
The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce sponsored the transportation, and the miners and coal supporters who traveled were volunteers.
Some miners are retired, some remain employed and others have been laid off, but their support for the coal industry ties them, their families and other supporters together.
"When you come face-to-face with (legislators) and they see you, they are conscious (of the group's opinion)," said Dennis Adkins, a retired coal miner, Citizens for Coal member and a trip leader. "That's the purpose of the trip, and we want them to represent us."
Nearly everyone on the Washington journey wore a small "Friends of Coal" pin, and many wore coal-related clothing, with pro-coal messages written on the back.
As the bus traversed West Virginia's rugged southern mountains into the flatter Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, conversation ranged from family to jokes to personal backgrounds, but seemed to continue to revert back to coal. Many of the travelers knew one another from the mines or from other coal-related activities.
This 756-mile trip stemmed from the miners' concern over the Utility MACT rule, which from the EPA's standpoint, is targeted at reducing emissions, particularly mercury, from power plants nationwide.
According to the Congressional Research Service's report on the subject, the EPA estimates that with the rule, 11,000 premature deaths would be averted because of the rule, and other ailments, like asthma and developmental effects in children, would also be avoided.
The rule would require power plants to operate cleaner and reduce the amount of toxic compounds released into the atmosphere within three years (although in certain cases, an additional two-year extension may be granted). The report states that 56 percent of currently operating coal-fired power plants already have installed equipment that would meet the new requirements; thus, the rule is targeted at those plants which have not yet installed the equipment.
The EPA itself has estimated that the rule will have an estimated cost of $9.6 billion in 2015, making it one of the most costly EPA regulations ever. That cost would likely be transferred to consumers, causing electricity rates to rise in some areas.
From the miners' perspective, the rule is another part of what has been referred to as President Barack Obama's "War on Coal." The miners and the industry argue that such regulations are aimed at chipping away at the coal industry and coal-produced electricity. For the rest of the story and to watch a video, click here.
WV Coal Festival, June 2012
Miss Shannon Green Forever Miss Forever Coal Queen Shannon Green and WV Coal Association President Bill Raney
Miss Shannon Jane Green, of Belle, is the daughter of Larry and Lisa Green. She is a sixth generation coal miner's daughter. Her great grandfather, Matthew Edison Green, of Mammoth, is West Virginia's oldest living coal miner, at 99 years old. Among his sons and grandsons, are: Marty Green, Jody Green and Joey Green of Walker Machinery Co.
Miss Shannon was carried across the Coal Festival Stage for the first time at 9-months-old and returned to win titles twice more. She has never failed to win on the prestigious West Virginia Coal Festival stage. Miss Shannon's "coal roots" run deep and her love of the mining industry, beauty and dedication earned her the lifetime Forever WV Coal Queen title. She is the very first young lady to ever hold the coveted title.
Miss Shannon represents the coal industry with great dignity and pride. She visits coal mines and attends legislative sessions to raise voter awareness. She attends memorial services to fallen miners, crowns homecoming queens, works with various sponsors on behalf of the Miss WV Coal Festival Scholarship Fund. And she makes hospital visits to injured miners and coal industry employees their widows and children.
A Forever Queen is born of love and service to the industry that most West Virginians and Kentuckians earn their living within. She encourages other young people to get out and compete for and represent the highly desired WV Coal Festival titles, just as she has. She has proudly welcomed her dear friends Brody and Paige Walker, son and daughter of Mike Walker, from Walker Machinery Field Service and his lovely wife Tara, into the fold. Brody captured the judges and won the yearly title "Little Mister WV Coal King" and his sister Paige went on to win a division crown as a “WV Coal Festival Queen" and snagged a division citation as "Most Beautiful".
Miss Shannon wishes to congratulate Walker Machinery and the Walker family for the proud achievement these children for which these children have competed. She also wants to remind EVERYONE that "COAL KEEPS THE LIGHTS ON".
From left: Ms.WV Coal Festival Mari Holiday being Congratulated by Miss Shannon Green Forever WV Coal Queen.
We have not told our story
April 11, 2012
From left: Monty L. Boyd, CEO of Walker Machinery Co.; Walker Machinery Executive V.P Tim McLean; and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-W.Va.)
BELLE - A roundtable discussion took place at Walker Machinery Co., April 11, between various businesses, organizations and politicians. The intent was to raise concern and incite a commitment to join forces - nationwide - in a grass roots effort to stop the federal impact on mining.
According to an open letter, dated April 6, to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson from various parties, there is a war against coal. It claimed the EPA has a political strategy.
“That strategy, simply put, is one that is a war against coal, and one that will wreak havoc and result in economic devastation on our communities.”
The guests were welcomed by Bryan Brown, Executive Director of West Virginia Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security of Coal (FACES) and Tim McLean, V.P. of Operations at Walker Machinery Co. Some other guests included: U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, (D), Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) and Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association.
“We don’t have an energy policy in this country,” Manchin said.
This discussion is coming on the heels of some recent legislative activities, including the decision, in early April, by a 4th Circuit judge striking down the EPA’s revocation of a mine permit in southern West Virginia. Around the same time, the EPA released new standards for coal-fired power plants that would restrict carbon dioxide emissions.
Manchin stressed the importance of getting politicians, nationwide, on board so together a strong fact-based front can be made against the powers rallying against coal.
“Politics will take care of itself,” Manchin said.
The battle before us is educating people and fighting with facts, he explained. Some folks are unaware that electricity comes from coal.
“We have not told our story.”
From left: Walker Machinery Executive V.P. Tim McLean; Bryan Brown, Executive Director of West Virginia Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security of Coal (FACES); U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-W.Va.); W. Va. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) and Monty L. Boyd, CEO of Walker Machinery Co.
PATRIOT COAL HOSTS EARTH DAY EVENT
May 13, 2011
LOGAN – According to Ray Albright, Buffalo Grade School has a wonderful relationship with Patriot Coal Corporation.
Albright is principal of Buffalo Elementary School, in Logan.
“Patriot Coal has just been absolutely wonderful when it comes to helping the school with whatever extras that every school needs,” Albright said. “Every school has a need for this kind of relationship with business.”
Albright attended the Patriot Coal Earth Day event at Apogee Mine, in Logan, May 13. About 12 Logan County school students, of mixed grades, were actively involved with planting trees on the mine site and fishing in a stocked pond. One eighth-grader Hunter Montgomery, who caught several Bluegills, said he enjoyed the event because it was something different.
“I learned a little bit about the coal mine and how everything works,” he said.
Superintendent of Logan County Schools Wilma Zigmond stressed the importance of educating children about the benefits of coal mining. It is not the terrible thing they make it out to be, she said.
“Coal mining is probably one of the most regulated industries that we have, and they go back and clean up where they’ve been,” Zigmond said. “Kids need to understand there is a positive behind the coal mining industry; it’s not negative.”
According to maintenance planner for Patriot Coal Jerry Price, the purpose of the event was to show the students there is more to mining than stripping coal.
“Afterwards, we try to restore the land back to its normal habitat, or as close as possible, by planting trees and grass and things,” Price said. “There is a process we have to go through and it’s good to have them join in with us to see how that works. In a few years they will get to see the results of their help with these projects.”
Albright said they stress Earth Day every day of the year at the school.
“The environment is going to be here when we’re all gone,” he said. “But while we are here it is our responsibility to maintain it for future generations. We must be actively involved, even more so now, because the demands on the environment are so much greater than they used to be.”
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