MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The top man at the United Mine Workers of America holds no misconceptions about the challenge his organization may face under a Biden-Harris Administration. UMWA President Cecil Roberts noted the discussion about climate change as one of the top priorities for Biden and Harris is a serious concern.
“What we’re going to be dealing with is how a new administration deals with climate change and we’ve been everywhere, dealing with every level of government agency with these issues to try to keep our miners working,” Roberts said in a discussion about the future on MetroNews Talkline.
Roberts noted the Trump Administration has been friendly to the industry and has advocated coal production, but even still, miners have lost their jobs and coal production has dropped drastically, especially in 2020.
“We have seen a tremendous number of coal fired power plans close even under an administration who has tried, in fairness, to find a some way to keep coal production in the market place, but it just hasn’t happened,” he said.
Roberts made the distinction between steam coal and metallurgical coal. He said those two areas are in different parts of the market place, but the met coal market has struggled in recent years as American steel production has dwindled. The former Murray Energy mines in north central West Virginia emerged from bankruptcy with a new UMWA contract and for now remain open. Roberts hoped that would continue. He said he’s had conversations with Joe Biden about this matter, especially when talking about the mines which are largely idle in southern West Virginia.
“Those rural areas have been hard in the last 10 to 15 years. I’ve expressed this to the President-elect when he spoke to the executive council. I told him if he gets elected, we need jobs in Appalachia,” he said.