WHEELING - Robert Murray calls the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency carbon dioxide standards, "a guaranty that electricity rates will skyrocket."
"This is an absolute tragedy, with no environmental benefit whatsoever," said Murray, founder and chief executive officer of Murray Energy Corp.
Murray operates the Century Mine near Beallsville, the Powhatan No. 6 mine and the Redbird West Mine in Jefferson County. Murray recently said 810 employees work at the Century Mine, with another 684 at Powhatan No. 6 and No. 66 at Redbird West. Together, the mines paid about $57.2 million in federal, state and local taxes last year.
Murray said many of these jobs and tax payments could disappear because of the new carbon dioxide limits. The eastern Ohio coal entrepreneur has long been a vocal and strident political foe of President Barack Obama's, as well as Democratic members of Congress.
"Obama is destroying the U.S. coal industry," Murray added Friday.
Consol Energy operates the Shoemaker and McElroy mines in Marshall County, as well as a number of other mines throughout the region. According to Consol, 1,000 employees worked at the McElroy Mine in 2012, while 751 worked at Shoemaker. The company paid $86 million in federal, state and local taxes for its two Marshall County mines last year.
Lynn Seay, spokeswoman for Consol, said Friday the EPA action was "dangerous and unnecessary."
"The president is legislating through regulatory bodies on an issue where Congress and the American people have repeatedly rejected his chosen path," she said of Obama. "Poll after poll shows that the public prioritizes jobs, the economy and skyrocketing debt as the defining issues of our time, yet the administration continues to move in a direction that will have no measurable impact on the stated goal of reductions in global CO2 concentrations."
The Sierra Club - a powerful environmental lobbying group with 2.1 million members maintaining offices in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. - calls coal an "outdated, backward, and dirty 19th-century technology." According to OpenSecrets.org, the Sierra Club donated $452,010 to various Democrat candidates for Congress in 2012, but gave nothing to Republicans. The Sierra Club claims that burning coal leads to "as many as 13,000 premature deaths every year and more than $100 billion in annual health costs."