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Final utility MACT rule a blow to coalfield communities

December 21, 2011
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[TRIANGLE, VA.] United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“The final language of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule requiring maximum achievable control technology for the nation’s power plants shows just how tone-deaf the Obama administration and the EPA have become when dealing with issues that will effect coal miners, their families and their communities.

“Instead of taking a reasonable approach that gives utilities the time they need to meet the stringent requirements set by these rules, the White House and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson have decided to stick with rigid requirements that will lead to the premature closing of dozens of power plants around the nation and the potential loss of 56,000 megawatts of electric generation capacity.

“Studies we have done predict this rule will put more than 50,000 jobs in the utility, coal and transportation industries at risk, and threaten tens of thousands more in supporting and dependent industries.

“We have held repeated meetings in the White House and at the EPA, bringing our concerns about just how significant of an impact these rules will have on the people we represent, their families and their communities. But many of our suggestions for ways to make this rule more workable have simply been ignored.

“I have to assume that the administration either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care what the impact on coal miners and their communities is going to be from the inflexible timetable imposed under this rule.

“Let me be clear: The UMWA wants cleaner air, too. We join with those who want to achieve the health benefits that will eventually accrue from this rule. But we believe those goals can be reached while at the same time providing a fair adjustment period to allow utility companies to install the technology needed to meet these requirements.

“This rule does not do that. That’s why it’s now critically important for Congress to act, and act swiftly, to pass the Manchin-Coats bill, which does not weaken the emissions standards required under this rule, just gives the utilities extra time to meet them.”

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