CHARLESTON — The November episode of The Coal Seam is now airing and features a show about the West Virginia Coal Miners Memorial Statue on the Capitol grounds in Charleston. Host Chris Hamilton is joined by very special guest Burl Jones, the internationally renowned sculptor who created the memorial.
The Coal Seam is filmed monthly at the West Virginia Library Commission Television Network studios in the State Archives. The
By Annalee Grant
West Virginia’s attorney general is once again leading a coalition of states against the U.S. EPA’s carbon agenda — this time against the Clean Power Plan’s companion, the carbon emissions rule for new power plants.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Nov. 3 released an unofficial version of his petition for review of the EPA’s new source rule, which will be submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. While he provided few details of his challenge, Morrisey pledged to show that the rule exceeds the EPA’s statutory authority and is otherwise arbitrary and capricious. Those seeking to challenge an agency action must indicate their intent to do so within 60 days of a rule’s publication in the Federal Register, although they do not have to lay out their arguments in that filing.
The Clean Power Plan establishes statewide carbon dioxide emissions standards for existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units, with the goal of cutting CO2 emissions 32% as measured from a 2005 baseline by 2030. The new source rule sets similar emissions standards for new fossil-fired generation, but also includes a carbon capture and sequestration requirement for any new coal facilities that may be built in the future.
North Dakota was the first state to challenge the new source rule, and legal experts have predicted it could be the key to bringing down the Clean Power Plan. Under the relevant Clean Air Act provisions, the EPA must regulate new sources of emissions before it can regulate existing sources of emissions, and so a successful challenge of the new source rule could effectively halt the existing source rule.
Joining West Virginia in the challenge are attorneys general for the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming, as well as the Arizona Corporation Commission, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.
WVCA Welcomes Resolution by Regional Energy Organization
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS – The West Virginia Coal Association applauded this week’s decision by the Southern States Energy Board (SSEB) to add its name to the rapidly growing list of states and organizations opposed to the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. The SSEB signaled its opposition formally by passing a resolution of opposition at its annual meeting, September 28, in White Sulphur Springs.
In passing the resolution, the SSEB cited the economic costs of the plan including job losses across the region and country, double-digit inflation of energy costs and the endangerment of grid reliability among other factors leading to their opposition to the CPP.
The WVCA welcomes the decision by the SSEB to officially oppose the Clean Power Plan.
“This plan will destroy tens of thousands of jobs across West Virginia,” said Chris Hamilton, senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association. “And that is on top of the tens of thousands of jobs already lost due to the Obama Administration’s on-going war on coal. Unemployment across the coalfields is at 13, 14 and even 15 percent and rising. Communities are going bankrupt and it is threatening the budgets and economies of entire states.
“More and more organizations are seeing these policies for what they are and they are standing up in opposition,” Hamilton continued. “Hopefully, we can somehow reach this president and get him to understand that you can’t build an economy on some fantasy, you have to build it on hard work and it has to be grounded in reality. And if we can’t get this president and this administration to act responsibly, then hopefully Congress will listen and we can get the administration’s attacks rolled back through their efforts.”
The resolution was authored by West Virginia’s Legislative coalition and SEEB Members, Senate President Bill Cole and Delegates Woody Ireland and J.B. McCuskey. The resolution was unanimously adopted by all voting members. Before the measure passed, practically every state voiced its displeasure with EPA and the Clean Power Plan.
BRIDGEPORT — “The Legislature made substantive and impactful progress in the 2015 legislative session and work has begun in earnest on our 2016 agenda,” said Senate President and Lieutenant Governor Bill Cole in his opening remarks during BIC’s fourth regional business forum Thursday at the Bridgeport Conference Center in Bridgeport, WV. Nearly 60 business and policy leaders from north central West Virginia and across the state participated.
“The legal reforms passed during the last session are starting to bear fruit,” Cole said.
He referenced that a major insurance company doing business in the state has informed him that they will be announcing a rate reduction on auto insurance by nearly 6 percent in the near future. “That is just one tangible example of your legislature getting results.”
“We’re going to continue to move the needle for West Virginia and we’re going to do it in a big way in 2016,” Cole stated. “We’re going to take on the hard issues, many of which may have been taboo in the past, but which will make us competitive and bring us in line with other states.” Cole cited Right To Work and Prevailing Wage as policy initiatives the legislature will be considering.
“We’ve got to make changes now,” Cole said. “West Virginia is one of the only states in the country to see a population decrease and we’ve got to reverse that trend. To do that, we need to double down on the things that are working and stop doing the things keeping us at the top of the “bad” lists.
Cole noted his appreciation for BIC’s role in promoting the policies, as well as the political candidates, that West Virginia needs to move the state forward.
Chris Hamilton, Chairman of BIC, framed the challenges facing West Virginia and BIC’s role in spearheading positive change.
“It is all of our duty here today to support those tackling the hard issues and to elect candidates that will continue this trend into the future,” Hamilton stated.
The event featured a variety of speakers, covering various issues.
Eugenie Taylor with the WV Chamber of Commerce outlined the need for passing public charter school legislation. “For those with resources in West Virginia, they have the option of sending their children to private schools which they may feel provide their children with the support they need to thrive,” Taylor said. “However, for the majority of West Virginians without such means, they have no alternative to public schools.”
“This is in no way an effort to replace public schools,” Taylor said. “It is, however, one more tool that can help move West Virginia forward.” Echoing WVU President Gordon Gee’s comments during the WV Chamber’s recent Business Summit, Taylor said, “West Virginia doesn’t have time for incrementalism. We need all the tools in the toolbox to be available to us now.”
Taylor said the Chamber is working to build a coalition of public charter school supporters and encouraged those in attendance to contact her should they like to participate.
Senate Education Chairman Dave Sypolt outlined the challenges he and his committee face in working to improve West Virginia’s education system. “The West Virginia code includes more than 700 pages dealing with education,” Sypolt said. “My goal is to review and simplify the code to create a more student-centered education system.”
Brian Hoylman, Executive Director of the Associated Builders & Contracts, presented on the movement to enact a Workforce Freedom – or Right To Work – law in West Virginia. “An employee shouldn’t be forced to pay dues to a union as a condition of their employment.”
Hoylman cited a MetroNews poll announced on Labor Day which found that 60 percent of West Virginia voters would support a Right To Work law. “Interestingly,” Hoylman noted, “only 30 percent of those polled were republicans, which shows the broad based support this initiative has.”
Delegates Amy Summers and Terry Waxman outlined their desire to improve West Virginia’s healthcare and welfare systems and to implement solutions addressing substance abuse.
Corky DeMarco, President of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association, provided an overview on the immense natural gas resources under the ground in our region. “West Virginia and our region will overtake Saudi Arabia in terms of oil and gas production when it’s all said and done,” DeMarco stated. “We need the legislature to take steps to assure production continues and that we maximize the downstream opportunities available for economic growth.”
Chris Hamilton outlined the challenges facing West Virginia’s coal industry and the ongoing impact of President Obama’s war on coal. “We’ve lost approximately 6,000 mining jobs in West Virginia over the past several years and a quarter of our production. While that is devastating to working families and our economy, we hope that the trend has begun to level off. Coal will continue to provide a significant portion of America’s electricity into the future.”
Delegate Paul Espinosa, Kathy Wagner, President of the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce, and Barbara DeMary, Executive Director of the Region 6 Workforce Investment Board, outlined the economic development challenges and opportunities facing north central West Virginia and the region.
“The two greatest challenges facing north central West Virginia right now are 1) retaining the businesses we have here today, and 2) finding workers for jobs both now and in the future,” said Wagner.
DeMary informed the group that there are a lot of people unemployed and in need of training in the region. She outlined a federal program that will incent food stamp beneficiaries in the Monongalia, Harrison and Marion County region to begin job training programs or lose their food stamp benefits.
The next BIC regional forum will take place in Vienna on Oct. 8.
Charleston, WV (June 2, 2015) – The West Virginia Coal Forum – an organization representing both labor and management in the coal industry – in conjunction with multiple local, regional and national partners, will host a forum to highlight the challenges and opportunities facing the coal industry from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Charleston.
Media are encouraged to attend.
Entitled “West Virginia Coal – 2015 & Beyond”, this first in a series of educational and informational events will bring attention to the impact of U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, state and federal environmental regulations and strategies for confronting these critical issues head on.
Presenters scheduled to participate include:
Senate President Bill Cole
House Speaker Tim Armstead
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey
Dr. John Christy, Climatologist
Jeff Herholdt, WV Division of Energy
Representatives of the coal and power generation industries
Chris Hamilton, Vice-President, WV Coal Association & Co-Chair, WV Coal Forum
Fred Tucker, UMWA, Co-Chair, WV Coal Forum
Seating is limited and reservations are required. To make a reservation click here.
CHARLESTON — West Virginia’s legislative leadership and the coal industry are urging Congress to pass new legislation that could slow down the Obama Administration’s war on Appalachian coal.
Senate President Bill Cole, House Speaker Tim Armstead and Chris Hamilton, senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association and co-chairman of the Coal Forum, met with several members of the Legislature and the media at the State Capitol May 18 to present a unified message to members of Congress: Pass the ARENA Act now.
The ARENA Act – the “Affordable, Reliable Energy Now” Act – is a new bill offered by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. Capito announced the legislation on May 13, calling it the principal legislative vehicle in the Senate to roll back President Obama’s “Clean Power Plan.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is pursuing changes to the Clean Air Act that would require electric power utilities to scale back coal-fired power to comply with new air emissions standards. EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” will have a particularly negative impact on Appalachian coal states, many of which have sued the agency in federal courts under a lawsuit led by the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office. .
Capito’s bill would prevent EPA from setting technology-based standards for power plants unless that technology has been proven to work at several locations and is commercially viable. ARENA also would extend EPA’s rule-compliance dates pending final judicial review and require the agency to issue state-specific plans for how states could meet the proposed air emissions reductions.
The ARENA Act also seeks to protect consumers from skyrocketing electric power rates because it would allow any governor to refuse to comply with a new air emissions regulatory program if it would have a negative impact on economic growth and ratepayers and threaten reliability of the electricity grid. The bill also will prevent EPA from withholding federal highway funds from any states for noncompliance with the Clean Power Plan.
“Last week, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito introduced this bill to be a powerful legislative weapon in the fight against President Obama’s War on Coal,” President Cole said. “Nobody is against clean air, but the extent that President Obama and his EPA want to go will cause devastating harm to our coal industry and thousands of West Virginia families. The proposed emission reduction standards for power plants are unprecedented, complicated, and expensive. I speak for my fellow legislators today in thanking Senator Capito for introducing the bill and also Senator (Joe) Manchin for co-sponsoring it. We stand ready to assist you both at the state level.”
Speaker Armstead echoed Cole’s support and said the Obama Administration’s disdain for coal-fired electricity has pummeled Appalachian economies.
“The Obama Administration is … imposing unreasonable and oppressive regulations that say to our hardworking West Virginians that the White House doesn’t care if it puts our West Virginians out of work, it doesn’t care if we become more reliant on foreign energy,” Armstead said. “In fact, this White House has said once again, loudly and clearly, that it doesn’t care about West Virginia.”
Under the Obama Administration, Hamilton said, West Virginia coal production has dropped 31 percent and the industry has lost a fifth of its jobs. Coal-fired power plant closures and projected power rate increases caused by the Clean Power Plan only exacerbate the impact on West Virginia’s jobs and economy.
“Amidst all this pain and suffering for our state and for all West Virginians, an important question is being ignored: Will the President’s and EPA’s plan have a significant impact on global climate emissions and therefore climate change? The short answer is no,” Hamilton said. “Proving that only requires a little bit of math. The President’s plan purports to reduce global emissions by less than 1 percent as global use of coal and coal-fired electricity grow around the world.”
Hamilton thanked Cole and Armstead for providing such strong legislative leadership and offering their public support of the coal industry.
“Since they have taken office this year, they have moved forward decisively and responsibly to do everything they can on the state level to support our industry,” Hamilton said.
Cole closed the press conference by reminding West Virginians that their leaders respect the role coal has played in history and the role it has in the state’s future.
“There is absolutely no doubt that our state has been built on coal. There also is no doubt that West Virginia’s coal built America,” Cole said. “Our coal miners are proud of their jobs, proud of their heritages, and proud of their communities. We must help them find a brighter future. We have such a vibrant, strong history in our coal mining industry, and I for one, do not believe that story is over. West Virginia’s history and West Virginia’s fate should not and cannot be decided by an executive order or by a group of non-elected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. Coal is simply the first fossil fuel in the gun sights of our president and his EPA. Natural gas will be next. We need to draw a line in the sand right here and right now.”
Photo by Brett Dunlap Chris Hamilton, vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association, speaks to the Rotary Club of Parkersburg Monday about the impact coal mining has on the state and it being the backbone of the state’s economy as well as the policies being put in place to curtail coal as a cheap and viable source of energy.
PARKERSBURG– Coal mining is a vital part of the economy of the state of West Virginia and benefits the entire state, including Wood County, which does not see a lot of mining in its immediate area, a coal official told the Rotary Club of Parkersburg Monday.
Chris Hamilton, senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association, spoke about the impact coal mining has on the state and it being the backbone of the state’s economy as well as the policies being put in place to curtail coal as a cheap and viable source of energy. Hamilton has previous experience as a miner and a mine foreman as well as operated his own mine safety consulting company.
”Coal has been one of the state’s leading industries forever and a day,” he said.
Mentioning the state recently marking its 150th anniversary, Hamilton said coal mining has been going on for all 150 years and back to when West Virginia was still apart of Virginia.
”We have been around for quite awhile,” he said. ”The fiscal impact and the jobs that have been created and sustained over the years has brought millions and millions of dollars into the regional economies.”When you break it down, what our 20,000-some miners do is provide our state, our region and the world with low-cost and reliable household and industrial power 24/7. That is what has helped build this nation.”
Coal is expected to surpass oil in the next year or so as the world’s leading fuel of choice, which could have benefits for West Virginia if the state is able to take advantage of it.
”We will continue to be one of the leading coal producing states in the nation,” Chris Hamilton said.
However, policies are being put in place to cut down on coal use domestically and new laws are being passed where certain standards have to be met to use coal, but the technology has not caught up with the requirements, leaving a lot of potential business for the state’s coal industry in limbo, Hamilton said, adding it has halted many plans for new coal- fired plants from being built.
”This administration has issued or established policy after policy that has served to inhibit or stop the use of fossil fuel and coal production within this country,” he said. ”That has resulted in around 3,500 miners who have been furloughed and unemployed. Many mining permits have been held up over the last five years. We are seeing out tax base cut by about 25 percent.”
The state has traditionally mined 160 million tons of coal, but we are now down to 120 million tons … all of this over the last five years.There have been 300 coal-fired power units taken out of service or set to be taken offline because of new air-quality standards being put into place. Around 25 percent of the coal-fired plants nationwide are shutting down because the cost of bringing them into compliance with the new standards is too high. Technology has lead to cleaner ways to burn coal and harness its energy while reducing airborne emissions, Hamilton said.
”There will be more gains made as our existing technology improves, he said.
Hamilton said the silver lining for the state’s coal industry is the number of foreign coal exports has increased, especially to Asia.
West Virginia is the second largest coal producing state in the nation behind Wyoming.
Due to West Virginia’s proximity to eastern ports, West Virginia accounts for one out of every two tons of coal that is being exported.
”We represent just shy of 50 percent of the U.S. total,” Hamilton said. ”We have some of the best coal found in the world. Coal is being used in those countries to support their growing industrial base. Exports have doubled over the last five years.”
Coal is expected to surpass oil in the next year or so as the world’s leading fuel of choice, which could have benefits for West Virginia if the state is able to take advantage of it.”We will continue to be one of the leading coal producing states in the nation,” Hamilton said.