PITTSBURGH (AP) — More than 2,000 union workers and others organized by the coal industry in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia joined top state elected officials Wednesday to rally against proposed stricter federal pollution regulations for coal-burning power plants.
The rally came a day before the Environmental Protection Agency holds public hearings in downtown Pittsburgh. It says its proposed regulations will cut carbon pollution 30 percent by the year 2030. Hearings were held in Atlanta, Denver and Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Gov. Tom Corbett, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor contend that the regulations will drive up electricity prices and cut energy jobs, all to reach goals that aren't attainable.
"We don't have the technology today to be able to burn the coal they way that they're proposing," said Tomblin, a Democrat. "We're just simply asking that they back off, work with the states, so that we can come to a compromise, so we can keep you coal miners working, so we can keep this country working."
Corbett, governor of the fourth-largest coal-producing state in the country, argued that "clean coal" technologies already developed by energy companies should be given a chance to further cut pollution.
"What are we supposed to do? Abandon it?" Corbett said of clean coal. "I don't think so."
Organized by the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and the National Miners Association, the rally drew employees of companies such as Consol Energy and rank-and-file miners, steamfitters and boilermakers who contend the new regulations will shut down coal-fired plants and cost them jobs.
"We're here to fight for clean coal. We're here to fight for clean energy. But we're also here to fight for our jobs," said Mark Walters, 49, a member of Pittsburgh Boilermakers Union Local 154.
Most of the workers wore T-shirts with pro-coal messages, including "Stop the war on coal," or a variation of the "Got milk?" slogan: "Got electricity?"
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