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Politics & Government

Former Senator Pippy to Lead New Coal Lobbying Group

In the face of what they call "unnecessary regulations" from the federal government, two large coal industry organizations have merged to form the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance (PCA).

Former state Senator John Pippy will lead the new lobbying group, which comprises the Pennsylvania Coal Association and Families Organized to Represent the Coal Economy (FORCE).

"We're bigger, we're stronger, and we're going to be louder," said Pippy.

Pippy argued against a recent decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to restrict carbon emissions from newly built coal-fired power plants. He said the new EPA standards are difficult to meet, and "their only purpose is, really, to shut down the plant."

"For example, right now the older ones, they're grandfathered in. What we should be doing is, we should be allowing them to increase and improve their technology incrementally, so we have less emissions than they had in the past," said Pippy, "but that's not the way the process works. The way the process works is, if you want to improve your technology, you start from square one under a new set of regulations. It just doesn't make common sense."

Pippy said the coal industry more than doubled its production from 1970 to 2009, while reducing emissions by 77% over that same time period.

Although he said he hadn't reviewed it yet, Pippy also responded to the primary finding of a recent NPR investigation into the coal industry: that black lung disease is on the rise in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia.

"Just like in the steel industry and any other, the automotive industry, the incidences that occurred back then are now, through regulation, not likely to occur," said Pippy. "We'll continue to make sure we have the best technology, and I'll review that."

Speakers at a press event on Monday emphasized that they believe coal mining is not just a "legacy industry," but a viable sector of Pennsylvania's economy. Doug Farnham, President of PFBC Environmental Energy Technology, said his company proves that point by using "coal waste" to generate power.

"The mining industry has come a long way from the days when the canary in the coal mine was literally a piece of safety equipment," said Farnham. "We're very technically advanced, while electricity production has advanced much the same way. The canary in the coal mine is much safer today than he was sixty, seventy years ago. Trust me on that."

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