The Obama Administration's war on coal is a war on jobs. Coal is America's most abundant energy source and one of its most affordable. It provides nearly half of the nation's electricity -- though the percentage is now declining due in part to the wave of costly anti-coal regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And the decline of coal means a decline in the jobs that go with it.
It's important that the American people are made aware of the fact that this assault, though aimed at the coal industry, affects us all. When coal jobs are cut, not only are the miners and their families hurt, but so are the people who supply materials to the coal mines, the people who operate the trains that carry the coal, and the people who work in the ports that ship the coal.
Just last week, coal producer Alpha Natural Resources -- headquartered in the Ninth District -- announced the shutdown of eight mines and the layoff of up to 1,200 miners. Many of these mines are the major employers in their communities, and each closure sparks other job losses throughout the local economy. In the words of one West Virginia reporter after the layoffs were announced, "when the work underground stops, everything above pays the price."
Similarly, many coal-fired electric generating units have announced shutdowns and layoffs. And the worst is yet to come, as several of the EPA's anti-coal rules have yet to take effect. The Energy Information Administration expects the pace of coal-fired power plant shutdowns to increase four-fold in the next five years.
Americans holding manufacturing jobs may also pay the price. In contrast to the war on coal here, China and other industrial competitors continue to ramp up their use of affordable coal to run their factories. The war on coal is handing these countries an unfair advantage. Instead of exporting goods, we are exporting jobs.
The Obama Administration's war on coal has coincided with a weak recovery and the longest stretch of eight percent or higher unemployment since the Great Depression. While a number of other factors are at work, the administration's anti-coal policy is costing jobs and contributing to the malaise.
Last Friday, I joined a bipartisan group of my colleagues and stood up for American jobs by standing up for American coal. I voted yes on H.R. 3409, the "Stop the War on Coal Act." This legislation, comprised of a number of bills, aims to stop the EPA's regulatory assault on America's power sector.
By way of the passage of this bill, my colleagues and I have one message for President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: Do Not Continue This War on Coal! The American people, their businesses, and their jobs are the ones being hurt the most. It's time for the Senate to join the people's House, and vote to stop the war on coal.
As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.