In a US Senate confirmation hearing yesterday, Gina McCarthy, President Obama’s pick to lead the EPA, told a Senate panel on Thursday that coal will remain important in the U.S. energy mix and that if confirmed that she will be flexible in applying new pollution rules for coal-fueled power plants.
“Coal has been and will continue to be a significant source of energy in the United States, and I take my job seriously when developing those standards to provide flexibility in the rules,” McCarthy said.
According to a story from Reuters, “Republican Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming and James Inhofe of Oklahoma, among others, quizzed McCarthy about the economic impact of its rules on states that rely on coal as a primary energy source, and about her feelings toward job losses when coal plants close.”
Barrasso said rules that prevent new coal plants from being built and would potentially shut down existing coal plants are already causing “chronic unemployment” in Wyoming.
“I haven’t heard yet any plain statements from EPA –hopefully we will today from this nominee – about the negative health impacts and lives lost from chronic unemployment caused by the EPA policies,” he said. “This is a serious health epidemic and it seems to go unnoticed by the EPA. How many more times will an EPA administrator pull the regulatory lever that will allow another mining family to fall through the EPA’s trap door of joblessness, poverty and poor health,” he said. “Are coal miners no longer heroes to the nominee and the EPA? These people are heroes and they deserve better than they’re getting from the EPA,” Barrasso said.
Coal is mined in 25 U.S. states and is responsible for more than 760,000 jobs in the United States. Wyoming is the largest coal-producing state, followed by West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Illinois.