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Spokesmen for coal blast EPA regulatory mandates

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By JAMES E. CASTO
For The State Journal

Carbon emission standards proposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency for new coal-fired power plants "aren't just difficult to achieve, they're impossible," Robert M. "Mike" Duncan told a pro-coal Huntington meeting Nov. 12. 

Duncan, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, or ACCCE, was the keynote speaker at the annual "Energy and Natural Resource Symposium," sponsored by the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce at the St. Mary's Center for Education. 

ACCCE is a trade group representing coal mining companies, coal-fired utilities and coal-hauling railroads. In recent years, it's taken a pivotal advocacy role in Washington, D.C. and at the state level. 

Duncan called the proposed carbon limits for new coal-fired power plants part of a "wave of regulatory attacks" on coal by the EPA. If they're allowed to stand, he said, the EPA's next move will be to apply the same unrealistic standards to existing coal-fired power plants. 

In the past 30 years, Duncan said, the industry has invested $118 billion in clean coal and has achieved a 90 percent reduction in emissions, but the EPA continues to ignore that significant achievement. 

The EPA is vastly overstepping the authority given to it by Congress, he said, and must be called to account. 

John Lyons, assistant secretary for climate policy for the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, said his state has 200,000 manufacturing jobs that rely on affordable electricity from coal. Yet, the EPA "has slammed the door on any new coal-fired generating units." 

Paul Bailey, senior vice president for federal affairs and policy with ACCCE, warned the Huntington audience that if the EPA's carbon regulations are allowed to go into effect as proposed, the inevitable result will be the loss of millions of jobs and double-digit increases in electric rates. "Every time we raise energy prices, every American family feels it," Bailey said. 

Huntington-based Natural Resource Partners L.P. served as the title sponsor of the symposium. Nick Carter, the company's president and chief operating officer, was master of ceremonies. 

"It's not a fun time to be in the coal industry these days," Carter said. "It's not much fun to get up every day, go to work and spend your time fighting your own government." 

The event was picketed by a small group of protestors from the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, or OVEC, which long has fought with the coal industry. An OVEC spokeswoman said the group was particularly upset that, given the health problems related to mining and burning coal, a hospital such as St. Mary's would provide the setting for a pro-coal event.