L-154 rallies to save coal plants

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA 18th), left, and L-154 BM Ray Ventrone lead a rally to save two coal plants in western Pennsylvania.

Rep. Murphy, coal miners, and others join effort

WITH TWO FIRST Energy coal-fired plants in western Pennsylvania slated for closure in October, Local 154 (Pittsburgh) hosted a rally outside the union hall to make the public aware of the financial impact on local communities, including the loss of hundreds of good-paying jobs.

Earlier this year, First Energy announced it would shutter the Hatfield’s Ferry plant in Masontown and the Mitchell Power Station in Courtney by early October. Nearly 400 employees would be affected. The company blamed the closures primarily on strict new EPA regulations.

The agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) would require an investment of $275 million for equipment to comply, according to First Energy, which has already spent $600 million to upgrade Hatfield’s Ferry. The two plants have a combined capacity of 2,080 megawatts.

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA 18th) helped lead the rally, along with Business Manager Ray Ventrone. About 150 people attended the event. Joining the Boilermakers were representatives of the Pittsburgh Building Trades, the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, and members of the Electrical Workers, Carpenters, and Laborers. In addition, dozens of United Mine Workers drove to the rally directly from their jobs in the mines.

“What’s been happening with the EPA and other groups is they have no accountability,” Murphy told rally participants. “They come up with regulations and they don’t explain them to us. We’ll, 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.”

BM Ventrone stressed the need to make carbon capture and storage commercially viable. “We need that technology,” he said. “It’s out there. We know they have it, and they know we can use it.”