Last week was a big week for coal in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Coal Alliance (PCA) released its economic impact analysis at a press conference in Harrisburg, and they participated in the Nemacolin Energy Institute’s third annual coal conference. Attendees of these events included Governor Tom Corbett; State Representative Jeff Pyle; State Senator Tim Solobay; PCA CEO John Pippy; members of the legislative coal caucus; industry leaders; and, a handful of miners, workers and small business owners. They all had at least one thing in common: their strong belief that taking coal out of our energy mix would have a profound impact on consumers and communities.
Several of the miners, workers and small business owners joined Gov. Corbett in a roundtable discussion, putting a face to the administration’s regulatory crusade against coal and describing the consequences they are facing as a result. Corbett also announced a partnership with Wyoming Governor Matthew Mead to explore alternatives to carbon emissions from electric generating facilities. The new research facility will be at a coal-fueled power plant and will further research on carbon capture and utilization.
“An EPA mandate that does not provide for an ‘all of the above’ energy approach that does not recognize Pennsylvania’s diverse energy resources would compromise electric grid reliability, increase the cost of energy and result in significant job loss . . . We need innovation and flexibility to ensure that we are protecting our environment, while also securing the thousands of jobs that so many families in Pennsylvania’s coal industry rely on.”
–PA Governor John Corbett, at the Nemacolin Energy Institute’s Third Annual Coal Conference
At the press conference, the House-Senate Coal Caucus also introduced a new study that highlights the fact that coal is a significant source of energy and employment in the state. PCA commissioned the study, undertaken by the Pennsylvania Economy League, which shows the coal industry contributed to more than 36,000 jobs and added about $4.1 billion to the state GDP. With about 40 percent of Pennsylvania’s electricity coming from coal, coal will continue to play an important role in the state’s economy and business sector. The study also found that about half of the counties in Pennsylvania have coal-mining activities and jobs, which pay higher wages than the average private sector job in Pennsylvania by about $30,000.
The economic impact that coal has on Pennsylvania is eye-opening. With about 300 plants around the country being forced to close due to EPA regulations, tens of thousands of jobs will be lost. States like Pennsylvania stand to pay the ultimate price because of EPA’s rulemaking, where communities will be devastated and residents will be forced to pay astronomically high electricity bills.