Lawmakers Dig Deep

BLUEFIELD — The rails of the mainline tracks through the heart of the Norfolk Southern’s Bluefield yard are still shiny, but 100-car-long unit trains filled with coal headed east are becoming more and more rare with each new day.

“I would say export coal is off by 50 percent or more and it doesn’t show any signs of improving,” Rick Taylor said. Taylor is president of the Pocahontas Coal Association, an organization that is made up of primarily independent coal operators in southern West Virginia, southwestern Virginia and eastern Kentucky.

Although business is bad, Taylor said that the efforts of congressional leaders from the region related to blocking the Environmental Protection Agency’s new regulations like the Clean Power Plan that are increasing pressures on coal operators.

“I’m pleased our elected officials are continuing to fight for the battle for coal and coal mining jobs in West Virginia,” Taylor said.

Both of West Virginia’s U.S. Senators played important roles in a pair of Senate resolutions aimed at slowing the EPA’s efforts to place additional regulations on coal-fired power plants. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,  joined together to oppose the EPA’s Clean Power plan.

Also, U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Heidi Heightkamp, D-N.D., introduced a resolution that “disapproves of the president’s economically catastrophic energy regulations.” Both of the bipartisan resolution passed through the senate with bipartisan support.

“The President’s energy agenda has had a crushing impact on West Virginia and other energy states,” Senator Manchin was quoted in a press release as stating. “With the passage of these resolutions, Congress is saying ‘enough is enough.’ We are showing the rest of the country and the rest of the world that we will continue to fight against these unobtainable and unreasonable regulations with everything that we have.

“I have vowed to do everything I can to fight to protect the people and the communities of West Virginia, which have been absolutely devastated by this Administration’s overreaching rules on the coal industry, and I am pleased that these measures have been passed to disapprove and stop these rules,” Manchin was quoted in the press release as stating.

“American jobs and economic growth are being held hostage as the administration proposes regulations that harm energy-producing states,” Capito was quoted in a press release as stating. “Today’s passage of a bipartisan resolution of disapproval makes clear that enough is enough – the president cannot move forward with policies at expense of our families, communities and economy.

“The administration needs to understand coal’s role in our energy landscape, and I will continue my efforts to ensure that our state has access to affordable, reliable energy,” she stated.

The resolutions will move to the House of Representatives.

By:  Bill Archer
Source: Bluefield Daily Telegraph