Mine Workers to EPA: Repeal clean coal plan

CHARLESTON, W. Va.—Repeating their long-held stand – one that even prompted them to be one of the few unions not to back Hillary Clinton last year – the Mine Workers joined a parade of witnesses urging the Trump administration Environmental Protection Agency to repeal its Obama-era national Clean Coal Plan.

Union Secretary-Treasurer Levi Allen and counsel Gene Chaska presented UMW’s stand at the first session of two days of EPA public hearings on the repeal. No other unions signed up to testify in the sessions at the West Virginia state capitol building in Charleston on Nov. 28-29. EPA is taking written comments until Jan. 16.

Federal law required the agency to hold the hearings on its proposal to yank the Clean Coal Plan, which the Obama administration’s EPA promulgated as part of the U.S. effort to reduce carbon emissions which lead to global warming. The plan would require coal-fired power plants to clean up their emissions, or close, in so many words.

But though the parade of witnesses split between pro-coal and anti-coal advocates – environmental groups stressed not just coal’s air pollution but that coal plant discharges help make the Ohio River the most-polluted in the nation – the Trump administration’s stand is clear. So is the union’s. Both hate the clean coal plan.

The EPA is following Trump’s March 28 executive order to “suspend, revise or rescind regulations that unduly burden development of domestic energy resources, beyond what is necessary to protect the public interest or otherwise comply with the law.” GOP-led states and the UMW all say the Clean Power Plan goes too far.

“We opposed the CPP because it was illegal and overstepped the boundaries Congress gave EPA under the Clean Air Act,” the Mine Workers said. Their alternative: Have EPA push technology to raise efficiency and reduce emissions from the coal-fired plants, not close them.

“It was also clear to us the primary effect” of the Clean Power Plan would have been to “virtually eliminate U.S. coal production within a decade and devastate employment in the coal industry where our members work.” Instead of shutting U.S. coal plants, EPA should promulgate plans to “increase efficiency at existing power plants,” the union added. “No one should be surprised” by UMWA’s opposition to a plan that costs its members jobs.

“The UMWA agrees steps need to be taken to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. We have never argued the science regarding climate change. But this rule was not the right way to go about it. If completely effective, it would have reduced global greenhouse gas emissions by about 1 percent.

“Yet it would have wiped out hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs in mining, utilities, transportation and the industries that support them – as well as devastating already hard-hit communities throughout Appalachia and other coal-producing areas of America.”

Source: PAI