CLEARFIELD COUNTY – The coal industry has become a major talking point for the upcoming presidential election. Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has imposed tougher regulations for coal companies.
In our region, several mines have been forced to close. Further, there’s also been at least one coal-fired plant in western Pennsylvania that has announced its closure due to the regulations.
C. Alan Walker, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, believes other measures should be enforced instead of limiting coal companies.
“I think the EPA has gone way overboard. They’ve eliminated a lot of jobs,” he said.
Walker, a Clearfield County native, is disappointed to witness the changes that have been implemented.
“Rather than banning the burning of coal, we now have the technology that coal can be burned as cleanly as natural gas. That’s what we should focus on. How do you burn it cleanly rather than to just put it out of business altogether,” he said.
In Clearfield County, GenOn’s Shawville Generating Station is slated to close in 2015. For companies, like RES Coal LLC., that means they will be losing money from one of the company’s they conduct business with.
Mitch Harvey, president of RES Coal LLC., said they provide up to 25,000 tons of coal every month to the Shawville Generating Station.
“It is going to be devastating to the local economy in terms of not just for coal producers like us, but the people that haul the coal, people that sell all kinds of water treatment chemicals. It has a very far reaching impact,” said Harvey.
Scott Kroh, president of Robindale Energy Services, which is the largest waste coal reclamation company in the U.S., is also concerned about the regulations.
He believes it will impact the price of electricity and reduce jobs.
“There is no doubt you’re going to lose jobs. Power prices are going to go up. Right now, we have cheap natural gas, which is a short-term abundance, but that will level out. So, you will see power prices go up and you will see a job reduction in the coal business in the state of Pennsylvania,” said Kroh.