Pittsburgh becomes rally destination ahead of EPA public hearing

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Pittsburgh is the host site for one of four public hearings this week from the federal Environmental Protection Agency on the proposed Clean Power Act and, because of that, it’s also becoming a rally destination.

A list of rally events are being held for both supporters and opponents of the possible new carbon emissions limits for existing coal-fired power plants — the focus of the EPA’s hearing on Thursday and Friday.

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, left, and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett both spoke at Wednesday’s rally.

“What we’re doing today is essential to the well-being of our country and our state,” Roger Horton, founder of Citizens for Coal, said en route to Pittsburgh Wednesday for the Rally to Support American Energy at Highmark Stadium.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, Ohio Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey were among the speakers at that event.

Horton made the trip to Pittsburgh from Southern West Virginia with hundreds of other coal miners and their supporters to speak out against the EPA proposal that aims to cut carbon emissions from power plants that are already in operation by an average of 30 percent from 2005 levels before 2030.

“I think their minds are made up. They want to shove this down our throat,” Horton said of the possible new regulations on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

“For that reason, we’re going to make our voices heard as loudly as we possibly can and, if anyone wants to disagree, that’s fine. But the vast majority of the people who live in the area that I live in, who work in the coalfields, feel the same way I do.”

Wednesday’s rally was the first of several planned rallies tied to the two-day public hearing on the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Act that was scheduled to begin Thursday morning at the William S. Moorhead Federal Building on Liberty Ave. in Pittsburgh. That hearing will continue into Friday.

On Thursday, as many as 5,000 members of the United Mine Workers of America and their families were expected to rally in Pittsburgh in opposition to the proposed regulations.

“What we need here is a conversation about this and Congress having a role to play here,” Cecil Roberts, UMWA president said. “This is not the democracy that people went to two World Wars, fought in Vietnam, fought in Korea (for). This is not the democracy that we thought we had.”

The UMWA rally begins at 11 a.m. Thursday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Roberts will speak at that event along with Edwin Hill, international president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Dan Kane, international secretary-treasurer for the UMWA and Jack Shea, president of the Allegheny County Central Labor Council.

At 12 p.m., those part of the UMWA rally will march to the William S. Moorhead Federal Building where the EPA public hearing is being held.

A counter-rally from environmental groups is also planned on Thursday at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto was scheduled to attend that event.

Public hearings have already been held this week in Atlanta, Denver and Washington, D.C. In all, the EPA was expecting 1,600 people total to speak in the four cities.

Up to now, more than 300,000 written comments have been submitted on the Clean Power Act. The public comment period continues through Oct. 16.

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