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Coal chief warns of ‘political power grab’ for grid

Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register photo by Joselyn King West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin, left, congratulates Murray Energy President and CEO Robert Murray following his speech at the Ohio County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner on Wednesday night.
Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register photo by Joselyn King
West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin, left, congratulates Murray Energy President and CEO Robert Murray following his speech at the Ohio County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner on Wednesday night.

WHEELING, W.Va. — Murray Energy President and CEO Robert Murray says the push by the Obama Administration toward environmentalism is a “political power grab” bent on controlling the nation’s electricity, and not about saving natural resources.

Murray was among the speakers addressing the crowd at the Ohio County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner on Wednesday night at the Wheeling Country Club. Joining him at the podium were West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

Also present was Marshall County Commissioner Bob Miller, whom Murray praised for raising concerns about the construction of natural gas-powered plant in that county. Murray said the plant is expected to create 30 jobs, but he anticipates it will eliminate 258 coal mining jobs and 3,096 total jobs in the Ohio Valley.

“Today’s coal production and sales situation is extremely dangerous,” Murray said. “It is the worst I have seen in 58 years. Our coal buyers cannot dispatch their generating plants because of ever-increasing regulations against them from the Obama Administration and his supporters, and as a result of the increased use of natural gas to generate electricity.

“What is behind this destruction of our jobs and livelihood? It is a political power grab of America’s power grid. It is being done to radically transform American society. How better to do it than to get control of the availability, reliability and cost of electricity – a staple of life.Then do this by illegally bypassing the states and their utility commissions, the U.S. House and Senate, and our constitution by putting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in charge of the availability, reliability and affordability of electric power in America.”

Benjamin said much is going on in the world, and he fears courts may be veering slowly away from the tenets of the Constitution – a document sometimes a free nation forgets about.

“As a judge, you’re reticent to say anything bad about other judges,” he said. “Let’s just say I’ve found some of the (U.S. Supreme Court’s) recent decisions ‘interesting.’

“Never in the history of the world has there been a document like our constitution. And no where has there been the recognition that power comes from the people, not the government. … And we all know if something comes from the government, the government can take it away.”

Morrisey said the best way he and other Republicans can prepare for the 2016 election and continue GOP momentum in West Virginia is to do “a good job” in their elected offices. He said the goal of his office is to establish a high-quality attorney general’s office that is also among the best law firms in West Virginia. He said he also strives for it to be considered one of the top attorney general’s offices in the nation.

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