Coal: The Heartbeat of America

As the American Products and Power bus tour powered through the end of September, the American Energy Alliance traveled to the heart of coal country in Boone Country, West Virginia. The AEA team was fortunate to meet the men and women who work tirelessly and with great pride to power America with affordable, reliable energy. But this vital energy source and the families whose lives depend on coal are under attack by the federal government.

The coal industry is no stranger to job-killing regulations. In 1999, the mine in Sharples, WV was shut down by a federal judge over an insect. Diane Kish, a lifelong resident whose husband and son worked in the mine at the time, shared heart-wrenching stories with the AEA team about the impact of the mine closure on the community: “We couldn’t believe it happened… we did not believe that one person, a federal judge, could change your future, and have the right to do it, over an insect.”  Diane remains optimistic, but it’s not easy. “I saw families destroyed; they lost everything.”

What’s more troublesome is the fact that the miners, working in their own back yard, have done more to benefit the environment than the “environmentalists” who protest the development of this vital resource. The coal companies “always leave the area a lot better than it was before they started,” noted Dempsey Stowers, a member of the Spruce Fork Community Advisory Panel. Airports, schools, lakes, hospitals and business developments breathe life into the local economy after a surface mining operation is complete. The AEA team visited these economic developments, in addition to reclaimed forests and mountains where the locals hunt, fish, and hike on land that was previously mined for coal.

The outlook for coal all across the country is bleak. Fulfilling his promise from 2008, President Obama and the EPA have enacted policies to bankrupt the coal industry and make electricity rates “skyrocket.” Joshua Nelson, a coal miner running for the House of Delegates in West Virginia, met with the AEA team and noted, “America is the only country in the world where our resources are treated like liabilities, not assets.” Joshua, who has to work through a maze of regulations on a daily basis, went on to point out, “If you think I don’t want to go home to my son and wife everyday, you’re a fool. But what good does it do us to pass safety regulations if there’s not a single person inside the coal mine working?” Josh went on to say, “When they do stuff in the name of ‘safety’, to push an agenda, that’s wrong.”

Roger Horton, President of Citizens for Coal and a coal miner, painted a frightening picture of the regulations that have landed on the coal industry since the Obama administration took office. Horton said that what used to be a manageable stack of paper, regulatory and permitting materials today stand “six feet tall.” He went on to explain that wading through all the EPA, State, and federal regulations takes “three years to get a permit, if you get it.” Not to mention you have to “spend some $750,000 before you can turn the first shovel load of dirt. And that’s just unacceptable, absolutely unacceptable.”

Ten percent of America’s coal-fired electric generating capacity will be taken offline as power plants struggle to comply with the EPA regulations that are stacking up against coal. That means more jobs destroyed in communities all over the country. That means small businesses and families will start to see their monthly electric bills “skyrocket.” And that means that now more than ever, we need to fight.

As regulators and bureaucrats continue to wage the war on affordable energy, the American Energy Alliance will continue to hit back. To date, we have traveled over 15,000 miles and had 12,000 activists sign the petition in support of more sensible energy policies that view coal as an asset, not a liability. As we meet these concerned citizens in states as far and wide as New Mexico to Virginia, the American Products and Power bus tour has brought hope to individuals and families whose voices are no longer heard in Washington, D.C.

While the name on the bus is American Products. American Power., the tour and the American Energy Alliance are fighting for the American people. Coal is the heartbeat of the American economy, and Americans depend on coal jobs. We cannot afford to let the EPA win the war on coal.

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