President Obama's war on coal is working. The Arch Coal layoffs are just the latest blow in a series of thrown punches at coal and coal mining families. Last month, Kentucky Power decided to forego a $1 billion upgrade at the Big Sandy Plant putting this coal-burning facility's future on life support. On June 8, Alpha Natural Resources announced 400 mining operation layoffs in Martin and Pike Counties. Now some 600 dedicated Arch Coal miners along the Kentucky and Cumberland Rivers are getting pink slips. By some estimates, 1300 Kentucky miners have been sent home this year. My heart goes out to all of the mining families now facing joblessness, particularly at a time of sustained and record level unemployment.
While the coal business climate has been difficult recently, President Obama's policies are inflicting real, permanent damage to our region. The approval of only one surface mining permit in Kentucky since 2008, federal takeover of the state regulatory process, and the EPA's $100 billion power plant shuttering Utility MACT rule are just a few shining examples of the job-killing initiatives undertaken by this President's extreme anti-coal, environmental agenda. Strangulation by regulation is being performed by his top agents. The Administration has signed off on putting thousands of hardworking men and women on unemployment rolls, supported raising U.S. electricity rates, and is eroding our energy security as necessary in achieving a coal-free America. Coal is under attack like never before. This precious resource fuels our nation's manufacturing base, puts food on the table for thousands of Kentuckians, strengthens our national security, and affordably keeps the lights on across our country. In southern and eastern Kentucky, communities like Belfry, Lynch, and Clayhole exist because of coal mining, not in spite of it. We need political leaders who assist coal communities and embrace coal miners; not politicians trying to put them out of work!
I know that my deepest sympathy can do little to restore balance to the many lives disrupted by the impact of these layoffs. However I can pledge that I'm continuing to make this war on coal a two-sided fight. As Chairman of the Appropriations Committee I've challenged the EPA to change course and opposed legislative measures to forever cripple coal mining. Just last week, I helped cut EPA funding by $1.4 billion and prohibited funding for troublesome greenhouse gas regulations. From day one, I've joined with other coal state legislators in fighting the permit moratorium, promoting clean coal development, and stopping this senseless assault. If there are going to be more layoffs, we ought to start with job-killers in Washington, not Appalachian coal miners. Although this fight will be long and tough, you have my word that I'm working to reverse this trend and fighting back for our beloved region.