Thousands rally nationally against EPA’s proposed power plant rule

IVP Dave Haggerty, far right in gray shirt, marches on the front line with UMWA officers.

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Pittsburgh authorities arrest IVP Haggerty, UAW officials for civil disobedience

CONCERNED BY THE prospect of widespread job loss, higher consumer electric bills and the risk of power blackouts, thousands of union members and supporters of the coal and power industries turned out in major U.S. cities to tell EPA the agency’s proposed regulations on existing source power plants are dangerous for America. The rallies were planned in conjunction with the EPA’s “listening sessions,” held at regional offices to gather input from stakeholders and the public.

The agency’s proposed rule would require a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and threaten the continued operation of more than 600 power plants. The rule is expected to become final in June 2015.

Boilermakers from Denver Local 101 and other lodges in the western states were among those who made their voices heard at the Colorado capital city. L-101 member Joseph Fross was featured in a Denver Post photo with a fist in the air at a pro-coal rally on July 29.

A larger event took place in Pittsburgh July 30-31, where the United Mine Workers union turned out in force. The Boilermakers, the IBEW, and other unions helped swell the numbers of those protesting the EPA regulations. Politicians, industry representatives and others supporting good blue-collar jobs and reliable, affordable electricity joined the ranks of a union-led rally and march. Scores of buses brought in union members and their families from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama and elsewhere. The rally was organized by the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and the National Miners Association.

Local 154 (Pittsburgh) members were well represented, and Business Manager Ray Ventrone gave an inspirational speech during the July 30 rally, held at the city’s Highmark Stadium. Also addressing the rally were Pa. Gov. Tom Corbett, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, and Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor The next day, the unions and their allies marched to the William S. Morehead Federal Building, where the EPA was conducting a public hearing on the proposed emissions rule.

International Vice President Dave Haggerty walked in the front line of the march, along with UMWA President Cecil Roberts and other Mine Workers. The group held a banner with the slogan, “Fighting for Coalfield Fairness.” Haggerty also joined in a sit-down protest that led to his arrest for civil disobedience. Haggerty, along with Roberts and other Mine Worker officials, were handcuffed and escorted by police to paddy wagons. The group was released a short time later.

In a statement issued before the rally began, President Roberts said, “We will be there to protest an EPA policy that will be destructive to our members’ jobs, their families and their communities. We estimate this rule could cause more than 65,000 workers in the coal, utility and railroad industries to lose their jobs by 2025.

“Climate change is a global issue that requires a global solution,” Roberts continued. “The EPA’s proposed rule will not have any real impact on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. But it will cost many of our members their jobs and have significant impact on their communities, and will also mean higher electricity rates for everyone. That is a trade-off that doesn’t make any sense to us.”