Labor, coal industry groups join forces in Pennsylvania

Boilermakers Local 154 Business Manager Raymond Ventrone and Pennsylvania Coal Alliance CEO John Pippy announced Sept. 24 the formation of Energy United, representing pro-coal leaders and citizens in Western Pennsylvania.

The new organization is committed to educating Western Pennsylvania residents about the importance of coal to the local economy at a time when many coal-fired plants in the region are being shut due to new clean air regulations. FirstEnergy (NYSE: FE) and NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) are prime movers on those coal plant shutdowns. The NRG shutdowns are of plants it got in a merger with GenOn Energy.

“We don’t need to choose between a clean environment and affordable, reliable electricity and the jobs and economic benefits that go along with that,” said Pippy. “With a collaborative approach, we can have all of those things. And if labor and business can find common ground on an issue, surely the federal government and energy stakeholders can do the same.”

Ventrone added: “Let’s be clear, I’m a Democrat, union leader, but I put my member’s interests ahead of politics. The working class is bearing the brunt of the policies advocated by the anti-energy crowd. These so-called ‘environmental’ organizations and their allies at the EPA are indifferent to the effects of their policies on hard-working Americans like my 2000 members and our other union brothers and sisters in this region and beyond.”

Ventrone continued: “I’ve witnessed the environmental progress our region has enjoyed over the last 40 years. I know we can have jobs and protect the environment at the same time. Let’s not relegate coal energy, our ace in the hole versus the rest of the world, to the bench simply for ideological reasons. The energy debate has been hijacked by an extreme, vocal minority and it’s time for the silent majority to stand up and fight back.”

Energy United said it supports a national energy policy that takes advantage of America’s abundant domestic supply of coal and helps generate affordable, reliable electricity, while continuing the environmental progress made in Pennsylvania and across the country in recent decades.

The Pennsylvania Coal Alliance is made up largely of coal producers, like Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE: ANR), and companies that supply good and services to coal producers in Pennsylvania. The alliance website also counts GenOn Energy as a member.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.