Don’t sacrifice coal miner safety for profit

An editorial from The Exponent Telegram 

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — West Virginia’s coal industry has taken a number of hits over the past few years that threaten the viability of the industry. Now it seems as though some in the Legislature would sacrifice coal miner safety standards to lower operational costs in order to compete in the global market.

First is the over-regulation by the EPA and President Obama’s “War on Coal” from an environmental perspective. Sen. Manchin, Sen. Capito, Rep. McKinley and Gov. Tomblin have joined forces with the West Virginia Coal Association and the United Mine Workers (UMWA) to fight these regulations at every opportunity.

 Second is the development of Marcellus Shale gas that has unleashed a 100-year supply of cheap energy into the market.

Energy has always been a violate market. Who would have thought just six months ago that oil would trade below $50 a barrel and that gasoline would approach $1.99 per gallon?

Coal has faced a similar scenario, but instead, the demand for coal in the United States has seen a substantial reduction instead of a large drop in price.

Third is that Appalachian coal has the highest cost to mine than all other forms of coal available on the market. Underground mining in Appalachia costs $63.86 average per ton to recover, while dredging for coal in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming costs just $11.06 per ton, according to the National Mining Association.

Strip mining and mountain top removal were cheaper methods to mine Appalachian coal. However, no one — including coal miners — liked this particular method of mining and what it has done to Mother Earth.

Therefore, how do we reduce the cost to mine Appalachian coal?

The powers that be in the coal industry seem to believe that part of the answer is to reduce coal miner safety standards…

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