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1,200 coal-mining jobs have been eliminated

Welshtaff 2012/09/20 23:31:39

The announcement that 1,200 coal-mining jobs have been eliminated across central Appalachia has sparked renewed cries that Obama administration policies are crippling domestic-energy production and jobs -- and is already factoring into the 2012 presidential race.

Alpha Natural Resources announced Tuesday its plan to cut the positions and scale back coal production by 16 million tons annually -- which would result in eight mine closings in Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Four-hundred workers will be laid off immediately, though the company reportedly may try to re-hire some of the 1,200.

Kevin Crutchfield, the company’s chief executive officer, said the lay-offs and the closings of the non-union mines are the result a difficult market in which power plants are switching to abundant, less-expensive natural gas and "a regulatory environment that's aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal."

However, elected officials and business groups have been less oblique in their analysis, saying Alpha employees are victims of President Obama’s so-called "War on Coal."

The Mitt Romney campaign is among the most recent to put the blame squarely on the president, releasing a TV ad Wednesday that reminds voters about what Obama said in 2008.

“If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can, it's just that it will bankrupt them,” the president said, in a quote interpreted by critics as a campaign promise that coal would have no future in an Obama White House.

West Virginia Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito acknowledged this week that several factors, including the declining price of natural gas, have led to recent mine closures. But she said the Environmental Protection Agency’s “extreme rules and regulations played a major role.”

“The president’s extreme policies are crippling entire towns and making it harder for workers to find jobs,” Capito, co-founder of the Congressional Coal Caucus, said in a written statement. "Because of the president's War on Coal, thousands of West Virginia families have to worry about where their next paycheck is going to come from."

She has added language to a bill which the Republican-controlled House is expected to vote on this week that would force the EPA to consider the impact on jobs and the economy when issuing new rules and regulations.

Billy Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said the EPA has specifically created “impossible standards” for electricity-generating plants. He also said the EPA is now “bullying” West Virginia into accepting water-quality standards over which the state once had some determination.

Raney said the coal industry wants to comply, but the administration has created “unrealistic timetables” and there is no technology to reach the goals.

“This goes right back to the administration’s policies and the EPA,” he said.

Raney and others said they agree that the United States should have a balanced energy policy that relies less on foreign oil, but the green energy alternatives backed by the president cannot shoulder the country’s energy demand over the short term.

Obama, perhaps due to his coal policies and other factors, faces dim chances in West Virginia come November. Keith Judd, a felon incarcerated in Texas, won 40.7 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary. And neither West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III nor Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin attended this month’s Democratic National Convention.

Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, said internal polls already show Republicans have a shot at unseating Rep. Nick Rahall, a pro-coal Democrat.

In addition, Ohio and Virginia -- two battleground states Obama won in 2008 – are coal-producing states where Romney could hammer his message on the industry in the weeks ahead.



Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/09/19/romney-pro-busines...
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  • karrie 2013/03/06 04:12:10
  • C. C. Rider 2012/09/21 13:29:21
    C. C. Rider
    +1
    Looks like Romney has outsourced more of our American jobs. Romney does not even fly an American Flag!!

    mitt caymen island
  • Farnsworth 2012/09/21 02:15:05
    Farnsworth
    +2
    Jobs? Who needs jobs when we have the privilege of living off of government and our dear leader Obama...
  • SmittenKitten 2012/09/21 01:25:02
  • Welshtaff Smitten... 2012/09/21 01:39:23
    Welshtaff
    Employment figures may drop off later this year, when recent layoffs by a number of companies, including Alpha Natural Resources and Patriot Coal, begin to show up in government statistics, analysts say. But companies announcing those layoffs have most frequently cited competition from low natural gas prices, a warm winter and the sluggish economy -- not tougher environmental rules -- as the central reasons for production cutbacks.

    Late last week, for example, Alpha announced it was idling one surface mine and cutting production at another, putting 133 miners out of work.

    "These two operations were caught in the downdraft of a declining coal market, just like a number of other Eastern coal producers that have announced recent production cuts and layoffs," said Alpha spokesman Ted Pile.

    Previously, Alpha had cited "unusually mild winter weather and decade-low natural gas prices" when it announced a $29 million first-quarter loss and revealed plans to idle 7 million tons of coal production.

    Multiple government agencies keep track of coal employment numbers in different ways, and sometimes numbers from the various sources appear to contradict each other.

    For example, average annual employment figures from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration show a reduction in Appalachian c...

























































    Employment figures may drop off later this year, when recent layoffs by a number of companies, including Alpha Natural Resources and Patriot Coal, begin to show up in government statistics, analysts say. But companies announcing those layoffs have most frequently cited competition from low natural gas prices, a warm winter and the sluggish economy -- not tougher environmental rules -- as the central reasons for production cutbacks.

    Late last week, for example, Alpha announced it was idling one surface mine and cutting production at another, putting 133 miners out of work.

    "These two operations were caught in the downdraft of a declining coal market, just like a number of other Eastern coal producers that have announced recent production cuts and layoffs," said Alpha spokesman Ted Pile.

    Previously, Alpha had cited "unusually mild winter weather and decade-low natural gas prices" when it announced a $29 million first-quarter loss and revealed plans to idle 7 million tons of coal production.

    Multiple government agencies keep track of coal employment numbers in different ways, and sometimes numbers from the various sources appear to contradict each other.

    For example, average annual employment figures from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration show a reduction in Appalachian coal jobs between 2009 and 2010.

    Matt Wasson, who monitors coal data for the watchdog group Appalachian Voices, said the average annual figures don't provide as good of a glimpse at short-term trends -- such as employment changes over a president's term -- as looking at quarterly numbers that provide more data points, and show the trend between 2009 and 2011 as one of rising coal employment.

    "In reality, declining demand for coal is the bottleneck for production," Wasson told the House Natural Resources Committee during a hearing in March.

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As West Virginia political leaders prepare for another round of attacks on the Obama administration's coal policies, state data show the number of mining jobs is at its highest level in nearly 20 years.

    Figures from multiple government agencies reflect the job increases between 2009 and last year, offering a starkly different picture than is frequently portrayed by industry officials and coalfield political leaders.

    "Any way you look at it, coal mining employment is at a two-decade high," said researcher Ted Boettner, who recently analyzed the figures for a blog published by his group, the West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy.

    Last week, Boettner reported that West Virginia Workforce agency numbers showed nearly 22,700 mining jobs statewide in 2011, the most since 1995. If support industry jobs were added, the 2011 employment was 24,500, again the most since 1995.

    Separate figures from the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training show 22,300 direct mining jobs statewide in 2011, a nearly 8 percent increase over employment during 2009, President Obama's first year in office. The mine safety office figures show last year's mining employment was the highest in the state since 1993.

    Employment figures may drop off later this year, when recent layoffs by a number of companies, including Alpha Natural Resources and Patriot Coal, begin to show up in government statistics, analysts say. But companies announcing those layoffs have most frequently cited competition from low natural gas prices, a warm winter and the sluggish economy -- not tougher environmental rules -- as the central reasons for production cutbacks.

    Late last week, for example, Alpha announced it was idling one surface mine and cutting production at another, putting 133 miners out of work.

    "These two operations were caught in the downdraft of a declining coal market, just like a number of other Eastern coal producers that have announced recent production cuts and layoffs," said Alpha spokesman Ted Pile.

    Previously, Alpha had cited "unusually mild winter weather and decade-low natural gas prices" when it announced a $29 million first-quarter loss and revealed plans to idle 7 million tons of coal production.

    Multiple government agencies keep track of coal employment numbers in different ways, and sometimes numbers from the various sources appear to contradict each other.

    For example, average annual employment figures from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration show a reduction in Appalachian coal jobs between 2009 and 2010.

    Matt Wasson, who monitors coal data for the watchdog group Appalachian Voices, said the average annual figures don't provide as good of a glimpse at short-term trends -- such as employment changes over a president's term -- as looking at quarterly numbers that provide more data points, and show the trend between 2009 and 2011 as one of rising coal employment.

    "In reality, declining demand for coal is the bottleneck for production," Wasson told the House Natural Resources Committee during a hearing in March.

    Next week, a state-funded group called the Coal Forum has planned a series of three events targeting what the industry calls Obama's "war on coal."

    Meetings in Charleston, Wheeling and Beckley are meant to "increase awareness of the harmful impacts" of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency policies "and to discuss strategies for reversing them." Featured speakers include members of West Virginia's congressional delegation and United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts.

    The Coal Forum is an arm of the state Coal Mine Safety and Technical Review Committee, charged by state law with conducting "coal advocacy programs." Lawmakers have given the Coal Forum about $60,000 in state money over the last two years.

    West Virginia Coal Association vice president and lobbyist Chris Hamilton, who is co-chairman of the Coal Forum, said he wasn't aware that the number of mining jobs had increased in the state under the Obama administration.

    "I did not note that increase when I looked at the numbers I was provided," Hamilton said Thursday. "The employment numbers are good. We're glad to provide gainful employment."

    Hamilton noted that coal production in West Virginia and across the region is down so far in 2012, and said geological issues have reduced Appalachian coal's per-miner productivity, and likely played a role in the increased employment.

    Since taking office, the Obama administration has sought to reduce the environmental impacts of mountaintop removal, and has expressed serious concerns about the growing body of evidence linking the practice to a variety of adverse health effects for nearby residents.

    Obama's EPA also has issued the first-ever limits on toxic air emissions from coal-fired power plants, and proposed a rule that would set the first limits on greenhouse gas emissions from such plants.

    Hamilton said if not for measures like these, West Virginia's coal jobs might have grown even more. But projections by government agencies and others suggest the industry is headed toward a long-term decline.

    So far this year, coal production in West Virginia is down about 7 percent over the same period in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration.

    Earlier this year, DOE projected that annual Central Appalachian coal production -- mostly consisting of Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky -- is expected to drop to about 86 million tons, a decline of nearly 54 percent, between 2011 and 2035.

    DOE cited slow growth in electricity demand, continued competition from natural gas and renewable energy, and the need to comply with new environmental regulations. The agency analysis, though, did not include any impacts from EPA's air-toxics rules or greenhouse gas limits, and DOE has said that the Obama crackdown on mountaintop removal is not a major factor in projections for future production declines.

    Just last week, DOE projected that electrical generation nationwide from coal would decline by about 15 percent this year over 2011 generation. During the first quarter of 2012, coal's share of U.S. electricity generation dropped to 36 percent, far below the 50 percent still frequently cited by industry supporters.

    Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.
    (more)
  • Smitten... Welshtaff 2012/09/21 15:45:07
  • Grabitz 2012/09/20 23:40:27
    Grabitz
    +3
    They are switching over to natural gas because we have an unlimited supply cheaper and much cleaner burning . Those coal miners need to reeducate and move on in these different times like most had to do when Romney started outsourcing their jobs .
  • Ken 2012/09/20 23:36:21
    Ken
    +3
    Add these to all the American jobs Obama has shifted to foreign countries.
  • dallasjoe Ken 2012/09/21 00:19:42
    dallasjoe
    +3
    KEN what are you SMoking read the article
  • Ken dallasjoe 2012/09/21 01:01:01
    Ken
    +2
    I did, 1200 more jobs are gone and you can add those to the millions of other jobs that Obama's regulations and stimulus money have sent overseas. Is that not simple enough for you pot smokers. Sorry, but I don't smoke anything, never have, never will.
  • dallasjoe Ken 2012/09/21 05:43:55
    dallasjoe
    +2
    Re read the Third Paragraph Plants are switching to Natural Gas since Natural Gas is plentiful and Cheap
  • jimmy dallasjoe 2012/09/21 13:01:27
    jimmy
    +2
    It won't be if francing is curtailed and you can bet if obamanut is reelected he'll definitely being telling epa to make up some kind regulation or he'll write executive order to do so
  • dallasjoe jimmy 2012/09/21 22:00:30
    dallasjoe
    +1
    Jimmy do you think that Fracking is Safe? In Arlington Texas at Cowboy Stadium the owners of the 1700 homes had sold the mineral rights before the had their Homes taken by the City to give to Jerry Jones. Jerry Jones will not have Fracking on his land, and he is an Gas and Oil man what is he afraid of ?
  • jimmy dallasjoe 2012/09/22 13:32:47
    jimmy
    Why did the city take there homes, because of fracking or the city wanted to give the homes to jerry jones.
  • dallasjoe jimmy 2012/09/22 17:44:11
    dallasjoe
    They sold the mineral Rights before The Stadium Deal Gas and Oil Company owned them. Then the city stole the land for the Stadium The 1700 Homes were detroyed to put up Cowboy Stadium,
  • jimmy dallasjoe 2012/09/23 13:02:20
    jimmy
    they sold there mineral rights, than the city took there land for a stadium. To me that doesn't make any sense. The oil and gas co. lost money unless jerry jones payed off the oil co.
  • dallasjoe jimmy 2012/09/23 15:37:33
    dallasjoe
    +1
    Jerry is an OOil and Gas man you think he would have embraced the idea of gas wells near his Stadium
  • jimmy dallasjoe 2012/09/27 13:42:50
    jimmy
    yea you would think
  • Ken dallasjoe 2012/09/21 15:11:03 (edited)
    Ken
    +1
    And, why has gas become so cheap compared to coal? GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS forced through by the Obama administration. If the Government wants to stop carbon emissions, BAN ALL VEHICHLES. See what happens to Obama then.
  • Smitten... Ken 2012/09/21 16:05:16
  • Ken Smitten... 2012/09/22 03:02:14
    Ken
    What do you mean it has nothing to do with it? High supplies means low pricing, when the regulations put all the coal companies out of business, the competition will be gone and the prices will skyrocket. Coal is also more labor dependent, so eventually more people will be laid off.
  • Smitten... Ken 2012/09/22 06:00:04
  • Ken Smitten... 2012/09/22 21:09:03 (edited)
    Ken
    +1
    Regulations have inflated coal cost, while there is a glut of natural gas now, it is only a matter of time until the liberals start attacking natural gas with regulations. How long before you think Obama and the environmentalist pass regulations to stop export of American coal?
  • Smitten... Ken 2012/09/23 17:11:57
  • Ken Smitten... 2012/09/23 22:34:26 (edited)
    Ken
    Natural gas is not safe, especially with our aging gaslines in the cities.
    http://energy.aol.com/2012/09...
  • Ken Ken 2012/09/23 22:36:56
  • dallasjoe Ken 2012/09/21 22:03:00
    dallasjoe
    +2
    Ken are you talking about the EPA rules passed in 1982, which had been not enforced until Now. If you think Coal Plants are good, OK find one with a Smoke stack under 100 Feet and move down wind. Hope you have no kids
  • Ken dallasjoe 2012/09/22 03:13:55
    Ken
    So instead of fixing the problem, we do the liberal thing and just run them out of business. We have already done that to the steel industry, and paper industry; and now we are doing it to the coal industry, and the oil industry. And we wonder where the jobs went.
  • dallasjoe Ken 2012/09/22 03:58:14
    dallasjoe
    NO first we should conserve. I would feel OK with any industry if as in the turn of the last Century the plant Owner lived next to the Plant, where they would experence the pollution. If they did that and they put their Family in effect let them do as they wish
  • Ken dallasjoe 2012/09/22 04:08:01
    Ken
    How about we just find solutions to fix the problems longterm, that's what Americans are good at.
  • dallasjoe Ken 2012/09/22 04:26:41
    dallasjoe
    How about an easy quick fix, put a tariff on all imports to bring back jobs to the US
  • Ken dallasjoe 2012/09/22 04:31:45
    Ken
    That's one of the things to do.
  • dallasjoe Ken 2012/09/22 04:34:00
    dallasjoe
    That and make corporation "people' so if they do something wrong the CEO goes to Jail
  • Ken dallasjoe 2012/09/22 21:10:54
    Ken
    Corporations are already people, unless the names listed as corporate officers are for things or places.
  • dallasjoe Ken 2012/09/23 15:39:10
    dallasjoe
    yeah but when a corporation does something wrong they just pay money the CEOs should go to jail they want to take all the Credit so take the Blame as well
  • stevmackey 2012/09/20 23:32:33 (edited)
    stevmackey
    +4
    And he says he cares. Obama is responsible and irresponsible.

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