Pro-coal politicians converged on St. Clairsville Tuesday to bash President Obama for his, quote, “energy failures.”
The United States House Sub-committee field hearing drew the attention of about 50 people concerned with the future of coal in the region.
Congressman Bill Johnson, along with Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania and David McKinley of West Virginia, convened the hearing.
All are Republicans.
It was called “the Green Agenda and the War on Coal” and criticized the Obama administration’s regulation of the energy source.
“It justifies our concern that this administration has a war on coal and they are determined to stop American from producing energy using coal,” says Johnson.
Johnson says the President is destroying jobs, driving up utility costs and making it harder for businesses to grow.
“You know, with unemployment having stayed above 8 percent for 41 consecutive months, it’s irresponsible for this administration to be going after an industry that provides thousands and thousands of jobs. So we’re going to keep fighting, that’s the next step,” said Johnson.
The hearing also took aim at the Environmental Protection Agency’s role in new coal rules.
Critics of coal contend burning it pollutes the air and contributes to climate change, but Johnson says the U.S. needs coal as an energy source.
“When you’re looking at, particularly, eastern and southeastern Ohio, that is so desperately needing a resurgence in manufacturing, how are we going to fuel that manufacturing growth when we cannot afford cost-affordable and available and reliable energy?” questioned Johnson.
Ohio State Representative Andy Thompson (R-Marietta) testified at the hearing and spoke at a press conference following the event.
He suggests something of a compromise can be reached for those who argue coal is harmful to the environment.
“Why don’t we invest in making coal as clean as we can? Technology does improve over time and if we’re ever going to achieve energy independence, we’re going to have to be able to avail ourselves to these energy sources that are abundant, inexpensive and reliable,” says Thompson.
Thompson represents Noble, Monroe and Guernsey counties, as well as parts of Washington and Muskingum counties.
He says some EPA policies could have a devastating impact on the region by eliminating jobs and creating an economic ripple effect.
He calls existing green energy sources, such as wind and solar power, too intermittent to serve the demands of the region and says storage of such power is a problem.
The hearing was chaired by Jim Jordan of Urbana and also attended by U.S. Representative David McKinley of West Virginia.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced new rules to limit carbon dioxide emissions, which scientists say contribute to climate change.