City and State Officials Rally for Coal Jobs

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CULLMAN – On a cold and windy Thursday morning, activists, senators, city officials and others gathered in front of City Hall to talk about the importance of coal. Speeches by Mayor Max Townson, Senator Paul Bussman (R) and Commissioner Jerry Oden spoke of jobs lost due to regulations set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency.

At 8 a.m., the Coal Jobs Count Campaign rolled into Cullman on a bus carrying officials from state and local government. Escorted by law enforcement, the bus pulled in front of the City Hall where a press conference was held to tell the public why they are fighting the federal government on the issue of regulations that impact the coal industry.

“We are on a 6-city bus tour that kicked off yesterday in Montgomery,” said Tiffany Bittner, executive director for the Coal Jobs Count Campaign. “We are an initiative designed to educate the public about the importance of coal jobs in Alabama. Some 16,000 jobs are being threatened by President Obama’s war on coal. We are specifically fighting the Environmental Protection Agency who is seeking to reduce CO2 emissions.”

According to Bittner, the regulations set forth by the EPA will kill thousands of jobs across our state and ultimately raise the cost of utility bills. Mayor Townson expressed his support of coal jobs as well, and the importance of these jobs in the south.

“Coal is jobs,” said Mayor Townson. “When you look at what we have done in the United States as far as reduction of emissions, we’ve done a fantastic job. Better than any other industrial country in the world. When you are talking about jobs in the south, coal is the backbone. I’m glad they [Coal Jobs Count] are here today to let people realize it’s about jobs, the south and if everybody would do as well as the United States has done, then emissions would be down.”

Public Service Commissioner Jerry Oden also spoke about the stance he and other state officials like him are taking against the Environmental Protection Agency.

“One of my main jobs is to look at the energy production across the state,” said Oden. “And as it was stated earlier, coal is our backbone. It is what creates that cheap and reliable energy. We have fought the EPA for the last two years, and we have stood strong against them, but they haven’t stopped and they won’t stop. We need to continue the fight, and we need to stand up and say hey, we have coal and it is our production, and we do not care what you think.”

The EPA regulations that this campaign, and others like it are fighting against would cut carbon emissions in Alabama by 30 percent by 2030. According to Senator Paul Bussman, these regulations will put Alabama at a severe disadvantage as industry is more inclined to come here due to lower operation costs.

“We have an abundance of coal,” said Bussman. “But what is going to happen is we are going to be put at a competitive disadvantage, as our coal costs go up, and energy costs go, so does the cost to operate businesses. Industries that burn coal, burn coal so clean that it is almost immeasurable, and for us to walk away from that technology and say it’s not right, is a huge mistake for Alabama and this country.”

For more information on this campaign, visit www.coaljobscount.com.