CHARLESTON – Many know that West Virginia coal powers the nation, however, far fewer people realize and appreciate its significance to the steel industry.
Domestic steel production relies heavily upon metallurgical coal, a special type of coal mined by thousands of West Virginians.
Metallurgical coal, also known as met coal, accounts for approximately 40 percent of West Virginia’s overall coal production, however, burdensome regulations jeopardize the steel industry’s continued success and by virtue, the need for met coal.
We cannot sit idly by and allow overreaching federal regulations to harm our state’s economy.
That is why our office recently took the lead and petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to change its rules that currently harm domestic steel production.
Steel producers currently face steep and unnecessary costs to properly maintain blast furnaces and other equipment because of the Obama EPA’s inconsistent, improper and costly rules.
We can change that with new rules governing how steel mills repair their furnace chambers.
Since the Trump Administration took over, we have enjoyed great success working with the EPA and its administration officials to reduce regulatory burdens that harm job growth in our state.
In fact, through our guidance, the EPA halted another rule that would have resulted in the federal government needlessly duplicating the states’ regulatory power over hardrock mining facilities that would have imposed $7.1 billion in new financial obligations on the mining and mineral processing industry without creating any new or significant environmental protections.
Mining and mineral processing facilities would have incurred $171 million in annual costs had the rule been finalized.
When burdensome and overlapping costs are placed on mining facilities, without tangible environmental benefits, the job loss to our state can be devastating.
Thousands of West Virginia coal jobs are required to produce the millions of tons of met coal necessary to fuel steel production at a blast furnace in Ashland, Kentucky, and 12 others located in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Massive layoffs or facility closures in those states would create an economic ripple effect felt by coal miners within our state’s borders.
The Obama EPA sought to effectively end coal production as we knew it, but our office fought and defeated the so-called Clean Power Plan with a historic and unprecedented victory at the U.S. Supreme Court.
It is with that fervor that we fight for met coal, coal miners and their families.
Other states recognize our strong record of success and the significance of protecting coal jobs. They are joining us in this effort to protect coal and steel production and the livelihoods of their residents.
We must reduce the reach of the federal government to protect the livelihoods of those who depend on coal’s success. Safeguarding employment and economic achievement will help West Virginia reach her full potential.
Morrisey is the Attorney General of West Virginia.