House Majority Policy Committee Hearing Highlights Role of Coal in PA Economy
LATROBE – The House Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Dave Reed (R-Indiana), today held a hearing in Latrobe where a bipartisan group of state legislators heard from representatives of Pennsylvania’s coal industry about the positive impacts the sector has on the Commonwealth’s economy and potential roadblocks preventing additional job creation.
According to statistics offered at the hearing, approximately 45,000 Pennsylvanians are directly or indirectly employed by the coal industry. Some of those jobs may be endangered by excessive and overzealous federal environmental regulations.
“Coal has been and will continue to be a job creator and low-cost energy source in Pennsylvania,” said Reed. “I believe we must balance our economic needs with our environmental responsibilities. We can have good-paying jobs and clean air and water. For too long, this has been an either/or discussion. This hearing was about working together to find ways to reach the goals of job creation and environmental conservation.”
Testifiers associated with Pennsylvania’s coal industry highlighted their desire to continue providing good-paying jobs for local workers while generating low-cost electricity for Pennsylvania energy consumers.
During the hearing, legislators learned that, while coal-operated power plants have taken steps to become more environmentally friendly, existing and proposed federal regulations have impacted and will negatively affect the industry’s ability to continue creating new jobs while delivering affordable energy to customers.
“Coal has an important role to play as part of a comprehensive, all-of-the-above energy strategy for Pennsylvania and the United States,” Reed said. “We are blessed with a large amount of coal in Pennsylvania. If we are going to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources, we must be able to harvest and use our homegrown energy supplies. Our move toward energy independence, lower utility bills and more jobs is being hampered by federal bureaucrats and regulators.”
While representatives in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives are limited in their ability to directly influence federal regulations, Reed assured testifiers that he and the other lawmakers present at the hearing understood their concerns and would look for ways to affect public policy on the national level.
“With most issues, before you can find a solution, you first have to highlight and understand the problem,” Reed said. “I’m not sure federal regulators based in Washington, D.C., always understand the negative impacts they often have on folks here in Pennsylvania. If we can raise the issue and increase awareness, that’s the first step toward finding a way to fix the problem.”
Testifiers included labor union officials representing mine workers, utility workers and electricians, as well as representatives from public policy groups directly involved with issues related to coal. The hearing took place at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe.
State Representative Dave Reed
62nd District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Todd Brysiak