PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With music as the opening act, supporters of coal gathered at the Highmark Stadium on the South Side to demonstrate support for mining coal and register their objection to environmental regulations, they say, undermine the industry.
Mike Butler of the Consumer Energy Alliance said these regulations “will undoubtedly drive up the cost of energy, hurting our local economies. This is particularly true in this region where Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia depend on coal for over 40 percent of its electricity needs.”
The event attracted lots of tri-state politicians who pressed the flesh, including Governor Corbett, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Ohio Lt. Governor Mary Taylor.
“Stop the war on our electricity. We need it,” Corbett said.
“Coal is what made the steel that made the ships that kept this country strong,” Tomblin added.
“When it comes to coal production, it’s a big part of our economy, and it’s a big part of the fabric of our lives,” Taylor said.
And some state officials say it’s time to sue the Environmental Protection Agency like West Virginia has done.
“Reading every line of every paragraph of every page of every regulation and seeing where the EPA violates the law — when it does, we won’t hesitate to challenge them,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey told KDKA’s Jon Delano.
It may not have been a very large crowd at Highmark Stadium, but it was an enthusiastic one.
Because for many of these folks it really comes down to keeping their jobs.
It’s personal, says Dylan Burkett of New Florence who came to the rally with his wife, daughter and infant son.
“Definitely be out of work. Won’t have a way to support my family,” he said.
It’s a common refrain among coalminers.
Jacob McCartney of Freeport, Ohio, says he worries about the future.
“Yes, we worry about it every day. They say, we’ll bring in windmills and this stuff. But we like mining coal. It’s our job. It takes a special person to become a coal miner.”
But whether that job continues into the future is yet to be determined.