By Jon Delano

NOTTINGHAM TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — The Obama administration is set to renew its push to restrict greenhouse gas emissions.

It sounds like a win for environmentalists, but some local lawmakers say that could hurt business in western Pennsylvania.

Using the Sanns Mine in Nottingham Township, Washington County, as the backdrop, Congressman Keith Rothfus and coal officials expressed concerns about still unpublished environmental regulations that, they worry, could affect local coal jobs.

“It’s about low cost American energy, and what that means for American jobs, American families, American moms who are sitting around the kitchen table writing that monthly utility bill,” said Rothfus. “And there’s a real concern that I have about the president’s war on coal and where it’s all going.”

Rothfus, Pennsylvania Coal Alliance CEO John Pippy and coal company executive John Stilley warned that too tough controls on pollution emitted from coal-fired power plants could be counterproductive.

“It’s very, very hard to comment on what impact it will have on us except for the fact that it’s going to be detrimental to the jobs here and our ability to compete,” said Stilley, of Amerikohl Mining.

Citing his own reclamation of land mined for coal, Stilley said today’s coal mining is not your grandfather’s operation.

“Coal mining today is a completely different industry than what the perception may be based on what existed 30, 40, 50 years ago, and we’ve got to educate the public how well we do things,” he said.

Sen. Bob Casey agreed, but says as we await the details of new regulations, the coal industry and politicians need to avoid partisan-sounding rhetoric.

“I don’t think we should start injecting more politics into environmental policy because we don’t have to make those old false choices where you have to choose jobs over the environment. We can do both,” said Sen. Casey. “We can keep our environment clean and also make sure we maintain good paying jobs.”

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