Thousand of coal miners and coal supporters descended on our nation's capital Tuesday to rally against new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Supporters of the coal industry were joined by several politicians on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
Here is our complete coverage of the day’s events.
11 PM UPDATE:
Miners and politicians fight for less stringent coal regulations
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WYMT)- Hundreds of people from Eastern Kentucky hounded thousands of others from across the country today to show their support for the coal industry. The crowd featured a demographic of people from coal producing states like West Virginia, Kentucky, Colorado and Wyoming.
Organizers called it the Rally for American Energy Jobs, but coal was the main topic of discussion.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky was passionate in front the microphone, expressing disdain for the Democratic parties stance on coal. He said, “I don't know about you, but it makes my blood boil to see Hollywood liberals plug in their electric car and think they can run their little car without any coal.”
Many people affected by coal layoffs blame Environmental Protection Agency Regulations.
Kentucky’s senior senator, Mitch McConnell said, “The War is underway. This administration has a War On Coal and that's why you're here today. But we intend to fight back.”
One Harlan County miner talked to us at the rally and said he barely had enough money for gas. “In Harlan they ain't much going on right now. Coal is going down. They ain't nowhere to go. Can't work unless you move away or go out west or take a job you ain't comfortable with.” is what Brandon Madon told us.
Madon and the thousands of others here are hoping EPA officials loosen the regulations in question, regulations designed to reduce pollution in the air and water and prevent global warming.
11 PM UPDATE:
Local judge executive feels EPA hearing was productive
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WYMT)- Leaders of the Rally for American Energy Jobs chose Tuesdayy because it coincided with a government meeting addressing the topic of Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
Members of the House Energy and Commerce committee heard testimony in the hearing titled "EPA's Regulatory Threat to Affordable, Reliable Energy: the perspective of coal communities."
Some lawmakers, including Kentucky representative John Yarmouth, said current mining practices do more harm than good. Yarmouth said, “Two recent studies found communities near mountaintop removal sites showed elevated risks of birth defects, adult hospitalization a with acute pulmonary disorders and hypertension increased in these communities as coal production does.”
But panel members, including Bell County judge executive Albey Brock defended the industry as a way of life. He said, “Many eastern Kentuckians are leaving their homes and their communities and their families to work in other parts of the country. What does the future of our region hold for those of us that remain?”
Brock told subcommittee members Kentucky's economy is more dependent upon coal than Detroit is upon the auto industry. After the meeting he said he felt it was a productive meeting and he felt it was the "straw that broke the camel's back" when it comes to easing those restrictions.
Coal rally seeks to loosen regulations on mining
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WYMT)- Just a few weeks ago the government was shut down, but today our nation's capital is buzzing with the sound of coal country uniting to fight for looser regulations on their signature industry.
Thousands of people from across the country flocked to the front of the Capitol Building for the Rally For American Energy Jobs. David Kennedy, from Harlan County traveled from the mountains to support his industry. He said, “We came up today to try and draw some attention to what's happening to the coal fields. The massive loss of jobs. The destruction of our entire economy.”
Leaders of the rally say regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency are causing economic destruction in coal-producing states.
Representative Andy Barr, a Kentucky republican exclaimed at the rally, “Unelected, unaccountable Washington bureaucrats have decreed thy this way of life, the symbol of Appalachia must now come to an end.”
Other politicians from coal producing states attended the rally and announced their support for coal. Representative Hal Rogers was critical of the Obama Administration during his speech. He said, “This administration has made good on one of his promises that he made and that is his promise to bankrupt coal. It's working.”
West Virginia’s junior senator Joe Manchin stressed the nation’s need to use coal for energy. At the podium Manchin proclaimed, “Coal is the most reliable dependable energy resource we have. 40 percent of the American people depend on what you produce every day.”
The politicians were out spoken at the podium, but several miners also made the trek to Washington for their voice and their support to be heard. Ricky Caudil a miner from Floyd County was brought to tears by the outpouring of support to the coal industry. He said, “When I got off the bus awhile ago it was laughter all the way. But during my time here I began to cry a little bit because it’s heartfelt here.” Gary Cox a Miner from Harlan County wanted his voice to be heard. He told us, “I can't do nothing from the house. Just try to be heard. Try to be seen. Just be a part of it.”
Supporters of the regulations argue they are necessary to ensure clean air and water. They also state mitigating climate change as one of the main reasons for the stricter regulations.
However proponents of the coal industry like Senator Mitch McConnell say this fight has just begun. He said, “We have not given up. We are going to push back against these people in every single way we can. We are gonna stop this war on coal.”
Most speakers at the rally said they were not opposed to all rules and regulations from the EPA , but they want EPA officials to come to coal country and have conversations where hopefully they can find common ground.
Washington hearing focuses on EPA regulations impact on coal communities
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WYMT)- As demonstrations continued in front of the U.S. Capitol, a House subcommittee heard testimony just across the street from officials from coal country about the effects EPA regulations are having on their communities
Officials from coal country testified before a house subcommittee in a hearing titled "EPA's Regulatory Threat to Affordable, Reliable Energy: The Perspective of Coal Communities." One eastern Kentucky judge executive was there.
Bell County Judge Executive Albey Brock told lawmakers Tuesday eastern Kentucky has lost more than 7,000 coal jobs in the past two years, a statistic he blames squarely on the EPA. At the hearing he said, ”Eastern Kentucky's economy is more dependent upon coal than Detroit is upon the auto industry.”
Brock told lawmakers the impact of coal layoffs to the coal economy has been so severe, many are choosing to leave the mountains to try to find work elsewhere.
The Kentucky Environment and Energy Cabinet reports a loss of more than 4,000 coal jobs between December of 2012 and the previous year.
Brock blames the trend on recent decisions by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“I cannot imagine the EPA calculated the human impact of their decision that has so negatively impacted the coal industry in eastern Kentucky,” said Brock.
He pleaded with congressional officials saying, “I'm asking you to please help stem the tide of unemployment and poverty by stopping the regulations that so drastically impact the production of Appalachian coal.”
Brock was joined by business leaders and officials from Pennsylvania West Virginia and as far away as Colorado.
Kentucky representative John Yarmouth, who serves on the house energy and Commerce committee's subcommittee on oversight and investigations, says job losses cannot be blamed on one president's environmental policy. He stated that, “declining mining jobs did not start two years ago or six years ago when this president took office. It started more than three decades ago with the advent of mechanized mining and mountaintop removal.