By Roger Horton, president
United Citizens for Coal

One of the most important events in our on-going fight against the Obama War on Coal10563222_674533305964419_4503646227473895732_n is happening in Charleston Thursday, September 17.   The U.S. Office of Surface Mining is holding a hearing on its new Stream Buffer Zone Rule.

The rule, if it goes into effect as it currently is written, may very well be the final nail in the coffin for coal mining in West Virginia. It would essentially make it impossible to perform any mining function anywhere near a stream. Many people would think this applies only to surface mining, but it also applies to building a new road or face up for an underground mine or anything that disturbs in any way the flow of water.

The 12,000-page rule is not just a “stream protection rule. The rule, like most of the others of the other s passed by the OSM and EPA as part of the Obama Administration’s assault on coal, completely ignores the intent of Congress in the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to minimize the effects of mining and substitutes a radical and unreasonable standard in which no changes at all are allowed to streams.
The rule is a job killer and make no mistake about it, it will wipe out the remaining coal jobs that have survived the seven years of this Administration’s assault on coal mining. In fact, the OSM’s own analysis of an earlier, and much more “modest” version of this plan estimates 7,000 coal miners will lose their jobs due to its implementation.  An independent analysis of this plan suggests the total job loss will be more like 80,000 jobs, most of them in the rural areas of our country, where alternatives to the jobs lost are virtually non-existent.

And consider this, this rule was written behind closed doors without any meaningful input from the states as required by law.
We simply can’t allow this rule to stand. We have to show up in Charleston on Thursday in force and make ourselves heard. And we need the support of our political leaders. I expect each and every one of our local and state political leaders to be at this hearing.  I expect them to LEAD our effort to turn back this latest assault on people.

There is no excuse for not being there. There is simply NOTHING more important than this meeting.  United Citizens for Coal is going to be there.  We won’t accept excuses. We won’t accept anything less than your full-throated support at this hearing.  It doesn’t matter if you are a US Senator, a member of the House of Representatives, the Legislature, the county commission or local dog catcher. YOU need to be there to let OSM know you won’t stand for this.
Think about this…. almost 8,100 West Virginia coal miners have lost their jobs since 2012, along with about 43,000 other people in support jobs. That is 35 percent of our mining workforce gone in just four years. Now they are saying this rule may cost another 7,000 mining jobs and 80,000 others? In Mingo County and McDowell County the unemployment rate is over 15 percent and it is over 10 percent in most of the rest of the coalfields.
We are seeing huge increases in child poverty and our communities are falling apart – plagued by drug abuse and crime – much of it brought on by the hopelessness many people feel as they watch their lives disappear.
The bottom line to everyone out there…. you are either with us or against us! Again it is that simple.
I don’t care if you have to hitchhike to Charleston. I don’t care if you have to miss a vote in Congress or drive three hours to get here.  The future of a single West Virginia coal miner is worth far more than your inconvenience.
We will be watching. We will know who is there and who is not. And that goes for our political leadership, our union leaders, our business leaders and everyone who has made a dollar or holds a position of trust due to the hard work or the vote of a coal miner and their families.
We need to fill the room at the Charleston Civic Center Thursday, September 17th at 5 pm.  If you need a ride, call me at 304.239.3780 and we will try to find you one.  The time for talking is gone. The time for action is now.
The time to be counted is now. Are you with us or against us?