Pennsylvania is the fourth-largest coal-producing state in the nation and Fred Hails, a fifth-generation coal miner from Washington County, wants to see it stay that way.
“You’re going to see rolling blackouts,” he said. “You’re going to have high electric bills, and I don’t see the sense in shipping our jobs overseas and buying back energy to support our country.”
Hails is one of 2,000 coal supporters who gathered at Highmark Stadium Wednesday in Pittsburgh to rally against new Environmental Protection Agency regulations, which would mandate a 42 percent carbon dioxide reduction by 2030.
The rally comes one day before the EPA will begin conducting public hearings on its emission regulations in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Denver and Washington.
David Clowser is a mining mechanic from Armstrong County. He said the EPA regulations are unrealistic for coal-fired power plants.
“I’ve seen this city in the '60s and the '70s when you couldn’t even see those buildings,” he said while facing downtown. “Today you can. We’ve cleaned up quite a bit, but I believe they’re trying to get more than what’s possible.”
The miners were joined by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Ohio Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, who spoke against the EPA regulations.
Corbett said the new guidelines will lead to higher electricity costs, as well as job cuts.
“These regulations are going to require the power generators to close down many of the facilities that require coal,” he said. “Forty percent of the energy here in Pennsylvania, is based upon coal production … it’s going to affect everybody.”
Corbett also said the federal government needs to take an “above and below the ground philosophy when it comes to energy.”
The Pennsylvania coal industry generates about $4 billion for the state every year, according to the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance. The state also ranks third in energy production and carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Energy Information Administration.