Coal Alliance pans lawsuit to block re-opening of oil refinery

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Pennsylvania Coal Alliance today joined the United Steelworkers in condemning a Philadelphia Clean Air Council challenge to the joint public-private effort to save nearly 1,000 jobs at the former Sunoco Philadelphia refinery.

Earlier this year, federal, state and local officials joined forces to help a private venture purchase and start the process of reopening a shuttered oil refinery, preserving perhaps thousands of direct and spinoff jobs in the process. State officials hailed the effort in part because it expected reductions in air pollution from the use of Marcellus Shale gas for process heat and Bakken Shale oil from North Dakota as feedstock.

“We’re compelled to speak out in defense of a common sense policy to preserve and increase domestic energy production,” said John Pippy, Coal Alliance CEO. “We in the coal industry saw the cooperative public-private efforts to save the Sunoco plant and hundreds of well-paying jobs as a positive sign that regulators at the local, state and federal level could work cooperatively with industry to reduce pollution while increasing domestic production.”

Pippy called the Clean Air Council intervention effort “misguided and ultimately harmful to workers and consumers.”

Steelworkers President Leo W. Gerard challenged the air council’s efforts as destructive to “months of hard work by USW members, local, state and national leaders and environmental officials.” State Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Krancer used stronger language, saying the lawsuit “stabs in the back 22,000 union and other workers and their families in Southeastern PA.”

Pippy said his members were enthusiastic about the successful efforts to reopen the Sunoco plant because they saw it as “a victory for sensible and enlightened regulation” that could be translated into policies to encourage other energy sources.

“Pennsylvania and the United States can become, in effect, energy independent if we set aside petty differences and put our minds and our science to work,” Pippy said.