Thousands rally against EPA coal rules on Capitol Hill
RAY VENTRONE, BUSINESS Manager for Local 154 (Pittsburgh), testified before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations October 29, arguing against the EPA’s job-killing regulations on coal-fired power plants. The hearing was titled, “EPA’s Regulatory Threat to Affordable, Reliable Energy: The Perspective of Coal Communities.” The hearing was chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-18th PA), who has worked closely with L-154 and other coal industry supporters against the EPA’s recent coal regulations.
Ventrone said EPA rules that severely restrict CO2 emissions from new coal-fired plants are “a calculated move to ensure that coal will no longer be a part of [the nation’s energy] policy.”
He spoke of the huge investments utilities have made to comply with EPA pollution requirements — only to have the agency change the rules.
“Just three years ago,” he said, “hundreds of construction workers and Boilermakers from Local 154 installed state-of-the-art pollution control equipment on a 1,700-MW coal-fired power plant [Hatfield’s Ferry], proving that coal and clean air were not mutually exclusive. However, despite having invested a half billion dollars to upgrade the power plant, last week marked its permanent closure, because the plant owner cited that the new EPA regulations were too costly . . .”
Other witnesses, from both sides of the coal issue, also addressed the subcommittee. Some of the most compelling statements were made by witnesses from coal mining communities who have seen their towns and regions devastated by EPA rules — coal mines shut down, small businesses closing their doors, residents moving away to find work, and hardship and poverty for those who remain behind.
On the day of the hearing, thousands of coal industry supporters gathered on Capitol Hill to rally against the latest proposed EPA regulations. Ventrone and Local 11 (East Helena, Mont.) BM-ST John Roeber were among those who addressed the participants.
The EPA issued a revised proposal September 20 to restrict carbon pollution from new coal-fired power plants to levels so low as to prohibit the construction of any new facilities. The agency is now collecting stakeholder input for regulations to control CO2 from existing coal-fired plants. A proposal for existing plants is scheduled for release next June.