CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Coal Forum hosted a meeting at Charleston’s Embassy Suites Tuesday to bring attention to the impact of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
Among those on hand were Senate President Bill Cole and House Speaker Tim Armstead. The forum aimed to confront head-on the state and federal environmental regulations that have hurt the industry and West Virginia’s economy. Roger Horton, the director of Citizens for Coal says the hard times have hurt the entire state.
“All of 55 of our counties benefit from the use of coal, and they are absolutely hurting,” Horton said. “We just had people laid off in Mingo County, Logan County Commission is reviewing their budget and I’m sure all counties are likewise.”
Dr. John Christy, a climatologist and a professor at the University of Alabama-Huntsville said that there’s no reason for the global warming obsession that has fueled strict regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and hurt the coal industry.
“I think some people are easily swayed by stories of catastrophe,” Christy said. “And they have an inward bent that there’s something wrong with mankind and we must be despoiling the environment in some way. And so we are at fault for anything that happens; I don’t know why people get an idea like that.”
The senior vice president of WV Coal Association Chris Hamilton said that coal was experiencing a real crisis, but it’s not just hurting coal itself.
“We’re seeing county governments, municipal governments; we’re seeing government services ratcheted back. We’re seeing layoffs at the courthouses around the state,” he said. “Plus all the ancillary businesses that are tied to these coal producing operations. It’s a real mess we have on our hands.”
Horton thought that the EPA and the Obama Administration knows how much the strict regulations are hurting West Virginia, but “they just really don’t care.” Christy said that research suggests that global warming isn’t the crisis many believe.
“We look at numbers; we measure many things about the climate system: hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, temperature and so on. We don’t see these things changing much at all.”
The forum, entitled “West Virginia Coal – 2015 & Beyond” was the first in a series of educational and informational events that the Coal Forum plans to hold.