Manchin tries to encourage coal operators

BECKLEY, W.Va. — A tough draw Friday for U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. He spoke before members of the West Virginia Coal Association at the end of what has been one of the toughest weeks for the industry in recent memory.

Developments this week have included the finalization of the federal Clean Power Plan that will cut carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants by 37 percent in 15 years, a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing from Alpha Natural Resources, layoff notices issued by Patriot Coal in connection with its bankruptcy and word that coal production is down in West Virginia impacting state tax revenues.

There weren’t a lot of smiling faces in the Beckley meeting room where Manchin spoke Friday, he said.

“I have never seen a time that got bad (for coal) and the federal government got on our backs and made it worse,” Manchin told MetroNews. “I’ve never seen that.”

Manchin challenged someone to ask President Barack and his administration a basic question about coal.

“What would America look like if there was not another lump of coal delivered to a coal-fired utility plant for the next three months? What would it look like? What would it do to our country? Someone needs to know that because they’re (Obama administration) is driving us toward that,” Manchin said.

The nation needs coal now and in the future, Manchin said, but the important questions are being ignored.

“How does it effect people’s income ability, their jobs, or the costs of heating and (cooling) their homes? Someone needs to start answering these tougher questions,” Manchin said.