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Coal industry goes to Washington, DC to ‘Stand Up for American Jobs’

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About 5,000 coal miners, energy workers, families and supporters gathered on the West Side Steps of the U.S. Capitol at 11 a.m. Oct. 29 as part of the "Stand Up for American Jobs" rally.

"We are going to Washington to show the support that exists for the people of our country's mining industry, and to put a face to the drastic job-crushing policies coming out of this administration," West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney. "This administration's policies are crippling the coal industry, and so much more."

Raney said there is a growing number of Americans who have been "pushed aside by this president, creating heartbreak and misery in hundreds of thousands of homes."

Buses left West Virginia from Huntington, Danville, Beckley, Morgantown and other towns early Tuesday morning.

Workers say they don't agree with the policies of President Barack Obama's administration.

Georgene Robertson and her husband both work in the coal industry.

"They are good, honest, hard working family men. They just want to work and take care of their families. Let them work," she said.

James Milam works for Walker Machinery and is frustrated with the federal government.

"We've got a resource here that's second to none, and it's the cheapest form of energy," he said.

Tim Mclean, vice president of Walker Machinery, agrees.

"They don't get it. They don't care. I think they've written West Virginia off. I think they've written Kentucky off. I think they're written eastern coal off," he said.

Employees from Consol Energy also attended the rally, just one day after the company announced it's selling five of it's West Virginia coal mines to Ohio-based Murray Energy.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., head of the Congressional Coal Caucus, will host the event. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va. and Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., all were scheduled to participate along with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

Capito said coal creates jobs and coal is America, but coal mines are being threatened.

"More than 100 mines in the state of West Virginia have been closed. 3,500 miners have been laid off or furloughed," Capito said. "Make no mistake – this is a war on coal. This is a war on American jobs."

Rahall said at the rally that if the EPA won't visit West Virginia, then "we will keep bringing the fight to them."

"They have trampled on the mine permitting process," Rahall said. "They have put out air regulations that threaten the future of coal-fired power plants. 

"And, as we stand here today, they are in the middle of conjuring up more coal-killing regulations. But they won't even come to coal country to hold their hearings. They won't come down where we mine coal and burn coal and give us have a fair fight."

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also issued a statement saying, "I applaud all West Virginia men and women who traveled to Washington, D.C., today to speak up for coal and the important role it plays not only in our economy, but also in the nation's energy footprint. West Virginians must stand together to fight federal overreach in every form, and every coal producing state should be unified in messaging to our elected leaders that we will not tolerate job-killing regulations that threaten to confine us to a life of poverty."