Lawmakers, candidates comment on closures - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Lawmakers, candidates comment on closures

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(WVVA) - Lawmakers currently serving citizens of the Two Virginias, and candidates on the ballot in the upcoming November election have voiced their opinions on Tuesday's announcement of layoffs by Alpha Natural Resources. Following are their comments, as received by WVVA News:

Bill Maloney, GOP gubernatorial candidate in W.Va. --  "It is tragic anytime a West Virginian loses their job, and a layoff of this magnitude is particularly disturbing.  But what is even more tragic is that Earl Ray Tomblin won't stand up and protect the jobs of these hardworking West Virginians.  Over 2,500 West Virginia miners have lost their jobs this year because of Earl Ray and Barack Obama.  Now 1,200 more jobs are lost with West Virginia to be hardest hit.  Earl Ray passed the West Virginia version of cap-and-trade, and he is sitting on hundreds of mining permit applications.  Earl Ray is a career politician who cares more about protecting his own job by pleasing Barack Obama than protecting the jobs of West Virginians.  I know how to protect and create jobs, and I've done it as a West Virginia business owner.  As governor, I will end Obama's War on Coal and bring jobs back to our state."

U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va. -- "The announcement of layoffs in Buchanan and Wise, added to the layoffs of two weeks ago at Consol, makes this already extremely disappointing news all the more troubling.  Certainly, the coal industry, like so many other industries, experiences natural ups and downs.  In today's market, natural gas is plentiful and cheaper than coal, so in many instances it is being used as a substitute for coal.  But, the fact that the coal industry has ups and downs isn't news. 

"The newsworthy issue lies with the additional burdens the Obama Administration is placing on folks like Alpha.  As I've said before, President Obama, his Administration, and his allies – like MoveOn.org and the Sierra Club – are all very clear about their agenda – make using coal history.  Take a minute to think about that.  A group of government bureaucrats have decided the coal industry isn't something that they like, so they're going to try to force it out of business.  This is appalling and it must stop.  I and others in Congress will fight them.  For all the hundreds of hard working men and women miners affected by today's news and impacted by this agenda, please know that I stand with you.  I'm proud to represent you.  I'm proud to stand with coal.  And I will continue to relentlessly fight against President Obama and all those who wage war on the coal industry."

U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va. -- "Coal mine closures and job cuts certainly constitute unwelcome news in my view and throughout recent period of mild weather and low-priced natural gas that led to growing coal stockpiles, I have urged coal companies, including Alpha, to do all that they can to keep coal miners employed.  Meanwhile, I am continuing my adamant efforts to help ensure that West Virginia coal has a level playing field domestically and internationally, blocking regulations that unfairly target coal, supporting clean coal research and development, and promoting infrastructure investment to more economically deliver coal to market here and abroad."

Gov. Bob McDonnell, R-Va. -- "I was very saddened to learn that Alpha Natural Resources will have to close eight mines and eliminate nearly 10% of its workforce. The company's corporate headquarters, as well as three of the mines slated to be shuttered, are in Virginia, and Virginians will lose their jobs when this happens. It is always a tragedy when someone loses their job. It is an even greater tragedy when that job loss occurs because of specific policies that hurt an industry. According to Alpha CEO Kevin Crutchfield, hostile energy policy at the federal level is one of the chief reasons for today's announcement. He stated that one of the two major factors for this decision was the avalanche of regulations coming out of the current Administration in Washington D.C. These regulations are making it harder and harder for coal companies to operate and compete. And these regulations are eliminating good-paying jobs that Virginians need. That is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, today's announcement is just one of many setbacks to job-creation, energy security and economic growth that can be attributed to the anti-business policies coming from the Obama Administration. The Administration has put in place rules that many believe will make it effectively impossible for new coal-powered plants to be opened in the years ahead. Virginia is a leading coal producing state. When demand for coal falls, or federal regulations make coal production unfeasible and too expensive and difficult, that will mean less jobs for Virginians. There is a direct and clear connection between the President's negative energy policies and job losses in Virginia's energy sector.

We are seeing the same thing when it comes to offshore energy. There is strong and broad bipartisan support for the development of oil and natural gas reserves off of Virginia's coast. Democrats and Republicans alike support moving forward. The result of offshore energy exploration and development here in the Commonwealth would be thousands of new, good-paying jobs for Virginians. But this President has said no. He took Virginia out of the five-year plan in which we were formerly included. Virginia would have been the first state on the East Coast to produce oil and natural gas offshore, creating thousands of newjobs and hundreds of millions in new revenue for transportation. This President vetoed good jobs for Virginia citizens, and greater energy independence for our nation.

The fact is, policy matters. Some policies encourage and support job creation. Other policies do not. The President's energy policies have led to lost job opportunities for Virginians. They have cost the Commonwealth hundreds of millions in revenue that could be used for transportation, education and economic development. And Virginia residents will be guaranteed to see higher electricity prices in the future with the continued implementation of the unbalanced and unfair energy policies of the Obama Administration. For all these reasons, we need to elect Mitt Romney this November. As President, Mitt Romney will put in place a smart and responsible energy policy that will create and support good-paying jobs for Virginia residents, while providing greater energy security for our nation."

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. -- "First, my heart goes out to the miners who lost their jobs and the families that depended on those jobs, and to all the Americans who will pay higher energy prices because this country lacks an energy policy that fully uses all of our domestic resources to benefit our great country.

"Companies like Alpha have ridden ups and downs of the market for many years – but they can't be expected to fight their own government, too. The difference between those times and now is that companies didn't have to deal with the overreaching of an EPA that makes it impossible to build any certainty into the future.

"Especially at a time when our economy is so fragile and good-paying jobs are hard to come by, it's clear that our federal government needs to start working with us and not against us. There's a balance to be found between the environment and the economy and the EPA has worked very hard to avoid finding that balance.

"As Senator, I will continue to work hard with members of both political parties to reverse the EPA decisions that are jeopardizing not only our coal industry, but our way of life. One of my highest priorities is to get this Congress to rein in the out-of-control EPA. I'm encouraged that we're winning this battle in court, especially our recent victory in the lawsuit that I filed as Governor. I'm also going to fight to make sure that we have an energy policy that works and uses all our domestic resources for the benefit of this country. That's the only thing that makes sense to me and the people of West Virginia – and that's the only way we can keep hardworking miners on the job."

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, R-Va. -- "Today's news that Alpha Natural Resources is being forced to lay off 1,200 employees and close eight mines due to the Obama administration's attack on coal is devastating.  These hard-working Virginians are being forced out of work because of increasingly stringent EPA regulations.  At the same time that President Obama has gone after the coal industry, our nation's economy and job growth continues to lag.  This is absolutely the wrong policy.  We should be increasing America's energy independence, garnering our natural energy resources, and encouraging private sector job growth.  Today's horrible news for these families is Southwest Virginia is more proof that we need new leadership and new direction in the White House – we must elect Mitt Romney and George Allen in November.  As the son of a coal miner who grew up in Southwest Virginia, I know firsthand just how devastating these layoffs are to the region and the families affected.  We stand ready to work with Alpha and our local partners to give these laid off workers access to other opportunities."

Anthony Flaccavento, GOP candidate for US House, 9th District, in Va. -- "The news of Alpha Natural Resources' elimination of 1,200 jobs, including the closing of three mines in Virginia, is devastating for miners, their families and our communities," said Anthony Flaccavento, candidate for Congress from Virginia's Ninth District. "Coupled with the recent layoff of more than 600 miners in Buchanan County by CONSOL Energy, it is clearer than ever that the employment situation in the coalfields calls for urgent action."

"I am calling upon Alpha, CONSOL and other major coal producers to preserve as many jobs as possible as they position themselves to remain competitive in the production of metallurgical coal," continued Mr. Flaccavento. "I further call upon coal industry executives and elected officials at all levels of government to launch aggressive efforts to create new jobs and new opportunities for the coal miners and their families who have given so much to our region and our country."

"These companies have profited greatly from southwest Virginia's resources and from the labor of hardworking coal miners. It is only fair that they reinvest in the communities and people who helped build their wealth and success."

Mitt Romney, GOP presidential candidate -- "President Obama's war on coal has claimed its latest victims with the news that 1,200 workers in states like Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania will lose their jobs. The Obama Administration's economic and regulatory policies are destroying jobs across the country and coal communities have been among the hardest hit. For the sake of so many hardworking Americans and the families that depend on them, this must change. I have spent my life creating jobs. Barack Obama has spent his presidency destroying them. Coal country deserves better over the next four years."

Rick Snuffer, GOP candidate for US House, 3rd District, in W.Va. -- "You can't see this kind of news without immediately thinking of the hard-working West Virginians and their families who will be impacted by these closures. Coal is the backbone of West Virginia's economy, and our miners are fighting for their livelihood right now.  It continues to be evident that the President's War on Coal is threatening the coal industry and costing West Virginians their jobs.  It's a shame that Congressman Rahall has repeatedly endorsed President Obama and refused to push back against his agenda instead of fighting for our way of life. It is time that southern West Virginia had a Congressman who truly represents them and understands their struggles. I will work with friends of coal on both sides of the aisle to support our coal miners and reverse the President's anti-coal agenda. West Virginians deserve no less."

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