U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, Rep. Nick Rahall and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (all D-W.Va.) are outraged with the Environmental Protection Agency's delay of a key permit that would allow the CONSOL mine and King Coal Highway to move forward.
After the EPA delayed issuing a needed 402 permit, CONSOL issued a WARN Notice tonight notifying workers that they would be laid off. The Mingo County Redevelopment Authority estimates that 2,000 acres of land could be developed and 2,500 new jobs could be created in the next 15 years.
"As a West Virginian, I watched this project come together one partnership at a time for the past two decades," Senator Manchin said. "As Governor, I made sure that the state supported the project's permitting and funding requests. Now, as Senator, I am incensed and infuriated that the EPA would intentionally delay the needed permit for a public-private project that would bring so many good jobs and valuable infrastructure to communities that so desperately need them. The EPA has lost court case after court case for its overreach, and it should be using better judgment by now. I vow to work with the Governor's office, our entire Congressional delegation and members of both parties to make sure that this vital project will move forward.
"Rather than fight this project, the EPA should be embracing it as a model of how to work together," Senator Manchin continued. "We'll put the land to good use after it has been mined by building the King Coal Highway. We'll build a wastewater treatment plant that will clean up millions of gallons of water for people in the Pigeon Creek Watershed -- eliminating raw sewage and other pollutants. Not only will we be protecting the jobs of the 145 people working at this project, we'll be putting hundreds more people to work with good-paying jobs. The EPA's callousness jeopardized the funding for all these projects. In short, this project is a win-win and the EPA is trying to make it a loser."
"People deserve straight answers from the federal government, without the delays and uncertainty," Rockefeller said. "West Virginia can't move forward if projects that have been negotiated for so many years remain stuck in limbo, with no clear end in sight. And WARN notices are themselves a tremendous hardship for miners and their families. We are talking about real people and real paychecks that provide food and shelter for real families. I want to be sure that these hard working miners don't get caught in the middle of bureaucracy and delay. There is simply too much at stake. Both sides must come together to get this resolved for Mingo County and throughout southern West Virginia."
"This highway is exactly the type of project I have always advocated for our post-mine lands -- a project that will provide jobs and lasting economic benefits to our region for future generations," Congressman Rahall said. "This is the kind of project -- one that diversifies our economy -- that our government ought to be promoting, not putting off. I will continue to work with our Senators and our Governor as we present a united front in an effort to knock some common sense into EPA."
"Once again the EPA has stepped in the way of a great project here in West Virginia," Governor Tomblin said. "The EPA has been delaying this project for far too long. Even after losing all of these court battles, the EPA cannot seem to understand the big picture and the true scope of its authority. Instead of stalling and creating unnecessary impediments, we should be working together to put people to work, develop our infrastructure, and provide the low-priced energy that our Country needs. This project would accomplish all three of these crucial goals. I will continue to fight for our coal miners and to work with our Congressional delegation and CONSOL to make this project a reality."