May 16, 2023 - The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) said today that the proposed power plant rule issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week will cause even more job losses in America’s coal producing areas, without any real prospect of substantial new job creation yet to be realized.
“We have significant concerns about this proposed rule landing at a time when the promises of job creation and job retraining in the coalfields remain little more than words on paper,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said today. “The next round of coal-fired power plant closures is coming. But the coal-producing areas of the country are still reeling from the last round, and they are not prepared for this one.
“We have long said that if there are no new jobs for displaced coal miners and their families to step into when their coal and coal-related jobs are gone, then our government will have once again failed an entire region of our nation,” Roberts said. “While there is a promise of new jobs from the Biden administration, for now that is all there is…a promise.
The UMWA has long called for rapid development of Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) technology to be commercially applied to coal-fired power plants, not just because it will preserve coal mining jobs but because it is the only way to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in the long term.
“We appreciate the attention the proposed rule gives to CCS technology, because that is the way we can keep coal miners working and tackle greenhouse gas emissions at the same time,” Roberts said. “But we also note that nearly two years after the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) was passed that allocates billions for the construction of commercial-grade coal-fired power plants to demonstrate that CCS can work, not one shovel of dirt has been moved to actually begin construction.
“The scenarios assumed by this proposed rule for CCS application to coal-fired power are ambitious, to say the least, especially when factoring in the lag in the development of the technology on a commercial scale,” Robert said. “We have a hard time seeing how this will match up in real time.
Roberts said the UMWA will submit specific comments regarding the proposed rule in the coming weeks.