Coal mine (AP File Photo)
(CNSNews.com) - The United Mine Workers of America held a rally Tuesday in Washington, D.C., to protest Environmental Protection Agency regulations that they claim would destroy the nation’s coal industry and coal-related jobs while doing nothing to address climate change.
On Tuesday, current and retired workers convened at Freedom Plaza, then marched to EPA offices to protest EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, part of President Obama’s larger climate-change agenda, which aims to cut carbon pollution by imposing state-by-state emissions standards and fines for failure to meet those standards.
CNSNews.com asked protesters, “If you could tell President Obama anything about these regulations today, what would you say?”
“Don’t even mention his name,” one protester said. “He’s the one stirring up a lot of the problems we’re having now with these coal-fired plants.”
“I wish [Obama] could walk a day in our shoes, let him come down to the mines and talk to us but I wish he could get down on our level and see what it’s doing to the coal industry, cause it’s sure – he and the EPA industry are sure ruining it,” said another protester.
“We worked hard for this country, and I think we deserve an equal share in the planning of what goes on in this company and coal is the vital part of this country and that’s what we’re concerned about – our jobs, our healthcare. And the EPA and Obama has no right trying to take that away from us,” another protester said. “This will destroy quite a bit of the economy in the United States and in West Virginia.”
Senator Obama in 2008 gave a hint of what he planned to do to the coal industry. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Obama said, “So, if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can -– it’s just that it will bankrupt them, because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”
Nevertheless, the president of the United Mine Workers of America, Cecil E. Roberts, supported then-Senator Obama in 2008, saying, “Despite what the McCain campaign and some far right-wing blogs would have Americans believe, Sen. Obama has been and remains a tremendous supporter of coal and the future of coal.”
Since then, Roberts has come out against the EPA regulations that will affect the coal industry.
“The EPA has paid absolutely no attention to the devastation that will occur in coalfield communities as a result of this plan,” UMWA International President Cecil Roberts said.
“Our initial analysis indicates that there will be a loss of 75,000 direct coal-generation jobs in the United States by 2020. Those are jobs primarily in coal mines, power plants, and railroads. By 2035, those job losses will more than double to 152,000. That amounts to about a 50 percent cut in these well-paying, highly skilled jobs. When a U.S. government economic multiplier used to calculate the impact of job losses is applied to the entire economy, we estimate that the total impact will be about 485,000 permanent jobs lost.”
“And no one -– no one -– can point to a significant reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions that is guaranteed to come from this rule,” Roberts said. “Some point to new so-called ‘green jobs’ that may be created by this rule, and say that there will be a net increase in jobs over time. I don’t know how one can actually count jobs that do not yet exist, but I do know this: the jobs that will be lost are among the best paying blue-collar jobs in America, especially in the mostly rural areas of the country where the coalfields are.”
In announcing Tuesday's rally, Roberts said all he's hearing from the EPA is, "Sorry, not our problem."
“Since EPA hasn’t yet summoned the courage to come to the coalfields and explain to the citizens there what they are doing, our members and their families are coming to D.C. to make their voices heard. They want EPA and the Obama administration to see the faces of some of the men, women and children who will suffer from the (Clean Power Plan).”
As CNSNews.com previously reported, the Clean Power Plan requires each state to figure out how to arrive at the federally prescribed carbon-reduction goals by 2030. "Clean" energy and "efficiency" (reducing demand for fossil-fuel sources) will have to be part of the mix.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told Congress that the "great thing" about the plan is its "investment opportunity."
"This is not about pollution control," she said in July. "It's about increased efficiency at our plants...It's about investments in renewables and clean energy. It's about investments in people's ability to lower their electricity bills by getting good, clean, efficient appliances, homes, rental units," McCarthy told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Asked to explain what consumers can expect from the new rule, McCarthy said the EPA expects people to see lower energy bills "because we're getting waste out of the system." In other words, if electricity costs more, people will use less of it.
The United Mine Workers of America describes itself as “a growing union with a diverse membership that includes coal miners, clean coal technicians, health care workers, truck drivers, manufacturing workers and public employees throughout the United States and Canada.”
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