A surface mine in Webster County will be one of several mines affected by Arch Coal’s planned future cutbacks. Arch announced Thursday the company plans to idle several of its operations and reduce production at other mining complexes in Appalachia.
This latest hit to the coal industry makes Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, Co-Founder of the Congressional Coal Caucus, wonder what it will take for the Administration and the EPA to back off from the coal industry?
"The Administration cannot simultaneously claim they’re focused on creating jobs while pushing energy policies that are shuttering plants and destroying jobs," says Capito. "It just doesn’t pass the smell test."
The company says these recent cutbacks are due to the continued downturn in demand for coal-based electricity.
Capito puts most of the blame on the current administration for the decrease in demand.
"I recognize that the coal industry is subject to the same market forces as anything else; there will be ups and downs, good times and bad," says Capito. "But the Administration is actively trying to cripple the fossil fuel industry through regulation; The EPA is now ‘Enforcing Political Agendas’ and it has to stop."
Arch’s Eastern Mine in Cowen is one mine the company plans to reduce production at soon, which could affect the mine’s 150 employees. Other operations in Kentucky and Virginia will be reducing production as well.
Three higher-cost thermal mining complexes and associated preparation plants will be closed as part of the cutbacks and the Hazard’s Flint Ridge complex will be temporarily idled.
Alltogether, the cutbacks will result in a workforce reduction of approximately 750 full-time employee positions.
"After today, 750 more West Virginia families are going to worry about where their next paycheck is going to come from. And with 8% unemployment and rising prices across the board, that’s a tremendous weight on their shoulders," says Capito. "My office stands ready to help these displaced workers in any way we can, and that includes fighting for a balanced, all of the above, energy policy that doesn’t pit one industry against another."
These changes will reduce Arch’s thermal coal production by more than 3 million tons annually.