Congressman Griffith’s Weekly E-Newsletter 07.16.12
Jul 16, 2012 -
House Subcommittee Hearing in Abingdon
On Monday, July 16, 2012, the Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a field hearing at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Virginia. Open to the public, it came as no surprise that nearly 500 people attended this event. The hearing was a continuation of the subcommittee’s American Energy Initiative hearing. It highlighted the EPA’s proposed Greenhouse Gas New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for utilities and the impact this regulation is going to have on jobs. The subcommittee heard from a number witnesses, including industry leaders, company presidents, and even a female miner, Donna Kessinger, on the EPA’s NSPS for power plants and its potential impact on jobs and energy production in Southwest Virginia.
Ms. Kessinger – a mother, a resident of Southwest Virginia, and a certified electrician and mechanic at Cliffs Natural Resources’ Pinnacle mine – summed up the importance of coal mining when she said:
"Our jobs allow us to put food on the table, buy clothes for our children and provide our families with good health care so we can lead productive lives. Coal mining makes this possible. My industry is under attack, and that means my job is under attack. My livelihood and the well-being of my family is at stake. I’m proud to be a coal miner. This is an honorable profession that should be respected…”
Though Ms. Kessinger’s sentiments have been spoken by many before her, few have delivered the message as well as she did. [The standing ovation she received was well deserved.]
There are far too many politicians and Washington bureaucrats who blatantly ignore the important role the coal industry plays with respect to our state, local, and national economies. On behalf of the Buchanan County Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Joe Gary Street, Vice President of Sales for the West River Conveyors & Machinery Co., drew attention in his testimony to Buchanan County’s economy.
“Buchanan County receives approximately $46 million per year in severance tax from coal, natural gas and other related coal taxes (per 2013 budget). The county only receives a total of $60 million from ALL county sources (this $60 million figure includes the severance tax) including property taxes, local sales and use tax, revenue from waste removal, etc. The major county expenses per year total $55-60 million dollars.”
I wonder, what happens when the coal industry is put out of business in Buchanan County? What source of income, what industry, is going to make up for the loss of $46 million a year? Will taxpayers across the region, state, and country have to make up for the lost revenue?
Dan Nation, Division President of Parkdale Mills in Hillsville, Virginia, also testified at the hearing. For those who are unfamiliar with the company, Parkdale Mills is the largest producer of spun yarns in the world. The Hillsville facility, built in 1995, is still said to be one of the most modern and automated spinning mills in the world. The facility employs 381 people and is the largest employer and tax payer in Carroll County. According to Mr. Nation, in just the last four years, power costs increased by 24% at the Hillsville site. This increase occurred “despite using the same amount of energy for years.” Like so many other business leaders across the Ninth District and the country, Mr. Nation concluded with this disheartening message:
“If we have to turn lights off to conserve energy, we turn them all off, close factories and people start losing jobs. These jobs then end up overseas and we never get them back. Putting higher energy costs on the back of manufacturing is one of the fastest ways I know of to kill more U.S. jobs. This regulation does not solve a problem, it creates a larger one.”
I am so thankful that the people of Southwest Virginia had the opportunity to add their voices to the conversation about the Obama Administration’s energy policies. I hope that the hearing helped to shed light on the war on coal and the negative impact the President, his policies, and Washington bureaucrats are having on jobs across the region and the country. To again quote Ms. Kessinger, the request is simple: “Please help me and others like me, proud Americans who want to work hard and provide for our families. We are not asking for special treatment or a handout. We simply want to be allowed to work.”
As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.