Environment & Energy
4:17 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Workers Rally for Southwest PA Coal Jobs

Boilermakers, utilities workers and politicians rallied Friday in an effort to save southwestern Pennsylvania coal jobs.

Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA-18) took to the megaphone outside of Boilermakers Local 154 Hall in Pittsburgh to take a stand against the Environmental Protection Agency and its latest regulations that contribute to the closing of two Pittsburgh power plants.

“Make your case with the American people,” Murphy said. “Have some accountability. But what’s been happening with the EPA and other groups is they have no accountability. They come up with regulations and they don’t explain them to us. Well, I’m going to make sure they do, and when they do I’m going to make sure it’s done with scientific rigor and not just someone making up a formula and saying that’s the way it’s going to be.”

The rally comes days after FirstEnergy announced the potential closing of the Mitchell plant in Courtney and the Hatfield’s Ferry plant in Masontown. Closing the two coal-fired power plants would displace 380 workers. The pending shutdown is due to new regulations from the EPA involving mercury and air toxin standards.

Earlier this week, Murphy wrote to EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe requesting information on the methodology used by the agency to estimate the cost impacts of its regulations. In the letter, Murphy expressed his concern that the EPA is neglecting economy-wide impacts and lacks full consideration of a regulation’s effect on jobs.

Raymond Ventrone, business manager for the Boilermakers Local 154, told those at the rally that closing the power plants will hurt southwestern Pennsylvania’s most abundant resource.

“Congressman Murphy’s always been on the side of labor, and he knows this is a big labor issue,” Ventrone said. “If they shut those two plants down, it’s an attack on coal is what it is.”

Murphy and Ventrone both stressed the need for cleaner burning coal, saying the science is there, it just needs to be utilized.

“Carbon capture and sequestration, that’s where they capture the carbon and put it into rock formation,” Ventrone said. “That’s what we need to do. We need that technology. It’s out there, we know they have it and they know we can use it.”

Carbon capture and sequestration, or storage, involves capturing carbon dioxide at coal or gas fired plants, transferring the carbon by truck or pipeline and injecting it into rock formations often a mile underground.