One Small Voice. A Lot of Big Ideas. Let Freedom Ring!
Have you ever spent time in a coal-producing region? I have. The coal region in Virginia is tucked away…from everything. It’s not going to be so easy for these laid-off workers to brush the coal dust off their boots and go on interviews. A new good-paying job will most likely entail relocation resulting in more local businesses suffering, more layoffs and more homes bloating the housing market. (Not to mention the possibility of foreclosures).
And then of course we will be adding more Americans trying to scrape by on government benefits including unemployment and food stamps.
From Arch Coal Lays Off Nearly 600 Workers (Kentucky. com June 21, 2012):
Exacerbating Eastern Kentucky’s unemployment woes, major coal producer Arch Coal announced Thursday that it will lay off nearly 600 Kentucky miners in several counties. Additionally, 150 will be laid off from a mine in West Virginia. Late Thursday, the St. Louis-based company announced it would idle several operations and reduce production at others in Appalachia “due to the unprecedented downturn for coal-based electricity.” Arch’s actions will mean a total job loss of 750 full-time positions, with about 79 percent of the jobs in Kentucky, 19 percent in West Virginia, and the rest in Virginia…
…Gov. Steve Beshear said he had authorized the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet’s Rapid Response Teams to help the newly unemployed.”We are extremely disappointed and disheartened by the announcement from Arch Coal today, as we know the announcement of significant layoffs in Kentucky is devastating news for hundreds of Kentucky families,” Beshear said in a statement.
… Bill Bissett, Kentucky Coal Association president, called the layoffs “a serious concern on multiple fronts.”
…”These are high-paying jobs in a region that desperately needs them. … The economic impact will go beyond the coal fields to other cities across Kentucky,” Bissett said. Arch cited a “continuing decline in demand for steam coal in the central Appalachian market” for its decision to idle several Kentucky mines effective Aug. 20…Arch Coal’s share price has been plummeting this year as power companies’ demand for coal has slumped in favor of natural gas
…Beshear said. “Demand for coal is at a 20-year low, thanks to a rapidly shifting energy market and high inventory. Unpredictable federal regulation processes have also hindered legal mining efforts, and we will continue to fight the unfair regulatory changes that effectively delay or halt our mining projects.”
…House Speaker Greg Stumbo said recovery would be slow.”It’s a fragile economy at best, and any disruption of this proportion is going to mean hardship,” said Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg. “A lot of us at the state and federal level have been crying about the war on coal. Obviously, it’s here, and it’s affecting Kentucky families,” he said. “It’s not just those jobs — it’s the ancillary industries, the coal truck drivers, those people who sell diesel fuel, those businesses that rely on payroll.”
Stumbo’s counterpart on the minority side of the state House also decried the job losses. “Today’s reported announcement is yet another example of the overreaching policies on the federal level by the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Democrats’ continuing ‘war on Coal’ led by their leader, President Obama,” said state Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown.
”This ‘war on coal’ by Democrats continues to hit those who least can afford it: those families who depend on the coal industry for their income. This also further cripples the business community in that they will see their bottom lines impacted greatly due to the increased utility costs.”This is the second major work-force reduction for coal companies in Kentucky this month…
Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, said he has heard that coal-related layoffs could top 2,200 by the end of summer, and he predicted rolling brownouts as Kentucky and the nation become energy-poor.
People are extremely worried. There’s a threat over all the mines,” Smith said. “It’s not just the jobs lost; it’s the impact on utilities and on energy costs.”With record summer temperatures predicted, “a lot of elderly people are going to pay for failed energy policies,” said Smith, who chairs the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee. “I directly attribute this to the Obama administration and the EPA. This lays at his feet.”On its Web site, Arch Coal calls itself “a top-five global coal producer and marketer.” It has more than 20 mining complexes in Kentucky, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Illinois, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland.
Here’s My Take:
Businesses are forced to restructure all of the time due to market conditions. However, I believe only part of the restructuring is due to market conditions. A lot of the blame for new layoffs can be laid at the feet of new stringent EPA regulations, under President Obama’s energy policy which is heavily weighted against the use of coal.
Can our country’s utilities operate as efficiently using natural gas instead of coal? All of us will find out soon if this trend away from coal continues. Either our utility bills will rise or not. And brownouts? No one in America is going to settle for that.
My hopes and prayers to the soon-to-be laid-off coal workers and their families.
What’s your take?