Coal hearing blasts EPA actions

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – State Rep. Mike Dovilla held a field hearing at Ohio University Eastern Campus Monday to discuss the effects of the Environmental Protection Agency on Ohio’s coal industry.

Coal-fired electricity was at the forefront during the panel session. Ohio has been hit the hardest by the increasing and strict policies that have been set in motion by the EPA. So far ,285 coal plant units have been shut down from 32 states, which is more than 41,000 megawatts of electronic-generating capacity. Ohio will have 38 units closing, losing 6,850 megawatts.

Currently, coal-fired electricity has been an affordable and reliable electricity source for many Ohioans; approximately 78 percent is consumed by Ohioans.

Chairman Dovilla said, “All Ohioans should be concerned about the growing list of announced power plant closures in our state with no plan to bring online additional power-generating capacity to meet our current and projected needs. Ohio’s hard-working families will be particularly impacted as analysts have projected electricity rate increases of up to 300 percent.”

Many witnesses presented their testimonies to the panel. Among them was Robert E. Murray of Murray Energy. In his opening statement, Murray said that he is scared for the people of Eastern Ohio. The reason for his fear is the newest regulations set in place by the EPA.

“Frankly, the EPA’s enacted, proposed, and yet-to-be proposed regulations regarding the permitting, mining, and utilization of coal have already caused, and will continue to cause, catastrophic economic consequences for our state and our nation,” Murray said.

Not only will Ohioans, along with many others Americans, will lose their jobs and many others will not be able to pay their electric bills as electric will no longer be affordable, he added.

Murray, who has been in the coal industry for the last 56 years, reminded those in attendance about President Obama’s “War on Coal.”

“This represents a coordinated effort to accomplish the total destruction of the United States coal industry. President Barack Obama, his appointed cabinet cronies, and his supporters in the U. S. House and Senate, are rapidly accelerating their attacks on our jobs and nothing has been enacted to even slow them down, let alone stop them,” Murray said. “Mr. Obama has totally usurped the legislation branch of our federal government in his radical agenda. This is why we must turn to our State Legislators for help.”

“The proposals of Mr. Obama’s USEPA, alone, were estimated to destroy 2.15 million American jobs and result in $200 billion in electricity rate increases, all by 2020, before his campaign to place so-called “climate change” controls on so-called “greenhouse gas” emissions from electric power plants, which he announced weeks. ago,” Murray said. “This is notwithstanding that the Earth has cooled for the last sixteen (16) years and that there is no connection between human activity and any “global warming”. His agenda, and that of his Democrat supporters, is to tax carbon to obtain additional revenue to operate the already bloated federal government. This is bad for Ohio, and bad for America.”

Other witnesses included Ohio Coal Association President Zane Daniels.

“It is my goal to provide you with an overview of Ohio’s coal industry to set the stage for others in attendance to discuss how the future EPA regulations will impact their particular business,” Daniels said. “As for our industry, production will cease if the EPA makes it uneconomical or illegal to burn coal for electric generation, but I believe it is best left up to those in the utility sector to discuss the impact that the New Source Performance Standards will have on their business and how they will affect the rates of their customers.”

According to Daniels, Ohio’s coal industry is responsible for some 33,000 jobs for a combined payroll of over $1.6 billion.

Ohio is the 10th largest coal producing state; it is estimated that Ohio’s total production reached 28,166,000 tons in 2011.

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