Contrary to 65 percent of the political advertisements/rhetoric that we Kentuckians have been subjected to over the last six months, the EPA’s regulations to prevent the coal industry from further poisoning our air and water have not, in fact, destroyed Kentucky jobs and the coal industry. On the contrary, ever since the Beshear-labeled “War on Coal” started, coal employment has gone… up.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Despite complaints about the Obama administration’s “war on coal,” employment in the Appalachian mining industry is at a 14-year high, according to new government data and congressional testimony.
Nationwide, though, the total number of coal jobs is at its highest level since 1996, with 90,354 jobs in 2011, according to federal Mine Safety and Health Administration data.
In Appalachia, the 59,059 jobs reported were the most since 1997, according to the MSHA data. In West Virginia, coal employment reached its highest level since 1992, with 23,353 jobs, the data shows.
Matt Wasson, director of programs for the group Appalachian Voices, said his review of the MSHA data shows the number of coal jobs in the region has increased by 10 percent since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began a crackdown on mountaintop-removal mining in June 2009.
“In other words, the idea of a ‘permitorium’ on coal mine permitting that House Republicans are pushing out is completely and demonstrably false,” Wasson said Friday. “The hysterical reaction of coal companies to any and all regulations to protect the safety of workers and communities near their mines is about profits, not jobs.”
Yeah, I suppose this might be due to the fact that since there are more obstacles to surface mining, coal companies have to resort to more underground mining (which has been shown of late to be just as safe for workers).
But the big problem with that is our out-of-state coal companies have to employ more Kentuckians to work the mines, instead of just bulldozer operators. More workers = less profit that they and their fellow out-of-state shareholders can export from the state.
So yeah, I guess all of those EPA regulations haven’t been so bad for the “workers” (these are the people with all of the soot on their sad faces in the TV ads). But this isn’t a victimless crime. Who, I say, will speak up for the coal owners in Oklahoma, and their shareholders around the country, who must settle for slightly less than many millions of dollars per year? Who will speak up against this injustice against the 1 percent?
Well, besides your employee for the next four years…
(h/t Travis Waldon at TP)