There has been a new announcement that due to the crippling policies from the Obama Administration, has caused a loss of as much ast 13,000 jobs in the coal mining industry, across central Appalachia. This is already affecting the 2012 presidential race.
On Tuesday, Alpha Natural Resources announced 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.”
Also 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.” And Mitt Romney’s campaign is the latest to put the blame on Obama. A recent Romney ad states:
“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.”
There has also been new language added to the 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.
Many agree with Raney that the US 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.
So come November, winning the voters over in West Virginia will be a tough sell for Obama. 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.
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.