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Chris Hamilton: A response to Cecil Robertsí claims about Coal Jobs and Safety Act of 2015
February, 17 2015

By Chris Hamilton

Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” and for the past 83 years, the West Virginia Legislature and the United Mine Workers have done just that. Now, after our Central Appalachian coal production has declined by more than 43 percent, numerous coal mines have closed, and thousands of jobs have been lost, Cecil Roberts is advocating for the West Virginia Legislature to just keep doing the same thing. This is not just recklessness on part of Roberts and the United Mine Workers, it is insanity.

Our Legislative leaders appear intent to do everything within their power to provide the coal industry with help and optimism so it may survive the next couple years of President Obama’s assault on Central Appalachian Coal Operations. Yes, we also have worsening geology and lots of lower-cost gas, but rest assured, as everyone knows who is remotely close to the coal industry, its misfortunes today principally have been brought about by our president’s attacks (which the UMW repeatedly have embraced).

The West Virginia Legislature has elevated its Energy Committees to “major” committee status so it can become more engaged with our energy industries for the foreseeable future. In just a few short weeks, the Legislature already has repealed our state’s Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio, which certainly would have caused less coal to be consumed in years ahead and established oversight controls over DEP in developing the state’s Implementation Plan for President Obama and the EPA’s climate rules. And lastly, the Legislature is taking a close look at the body of law governing our operational standards to ensure they adequately address miner safety and streamline important safety processes.

Towards this end, and before his maddening rant, Cecil Roberts identifies two specific objections to the mine safety initiatives before the Legislature: One deals with transporting injured miners to the outside and the other makes some bizarre reference to diesel fumes.

Concerning the transportation of injured miners, the rule before the legislature requires not one but two emergency vehicles at all locations where track systems of transporting miners exist underground. No other state, not even under federal law, requires that two vehicles be present to transport an injured miner. Under the proposed changes to West Virginia law, there is a vehicle required on the immediate outby end of the track, and based on a recent Senate amendment (which Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Trump championed and our organization supported), there is now a second emergency vehicle on the inby side of the track as well.

Roberts’ assertion concerning diesel fumes is plainly false. As any miner knows, West Virginia has the most stringent laws and regulations found anywhere in the world. From equipment engineering and design to our state’s requirements for ensuring the cleanest burning diesel engines known to man, there is nothing in the legislation that disrupts or changes these laws in any way, shape or form. The proposed change is simply to remove a six-member group of inexperienced laymen who currently are charged with approving mining machines — while they meet in posh hotel conference rooms — and transfer this important task to the West Virginia Office of Miners Health Safety and Training and its 135 highly skilled mine inspectors and safety professionals who are charged with inspecting our coal mines and ensuring that all equipment — both electrical and diesel — is safe to use.

I understand Cecil Roberts’ frustration, for his disciples and he no longer are in charge of state policy. Our hard-working miners get it — they have had enough of President Obama and his party’s rule. We have tried the United Mine Workers’ ways for the past 83 years, and it failed. It is time for a change to make our mines competitive and to save West Virginia jobs.

Hamilton is senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association, a member of the West Virginia Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety and a member of the West Virginia Diesel Commission.
 
54 Coal Industry Firms Recognized for Commitment to Workplace Safety
February, 10 2015

Charleston, WV, February 5, 2015 - Mine safety is a central focus of West Virginia’s coal industry. At Thursday’s session of the 42nd Annual West Virginia Mining Symposium in Charleston, 54 mining and service companies were recognized for their commitment to exemplary safety performance in 2014.

Topping the list of award winners was Catenary Coal Company’s Samples Mine, of Kanawha County, which took home the Barton B. Lay Milestones of Safety Award.

“Our member companies strive each day to provide their employees with the safest possible workplace,” said Chris Hamilton, senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association.  “They have set a standard with their focus on reducing workplace injuries and getting everyone home at the end of their shifts. We applaud their hard work and dedication to this, our most important responsibility.”

The Mountaineer Guardian Awards are presented each year to mining companies that have demonstrated a commitment to safety standards. Inspectors for the West Virginia Office of Mine Health Safety and Training nominate the companies based on numerous criteria.

The Eustace Frederick Award will be presented at a later date.

Full List of Mountaineer Guardian Award Winners:

Barton B. Lay Milestones of Safety Award

Surface Mines

Catenary Coal Company, Samples Mine, Kanawha County

Independent Contractor

Walker Machinery, Statewide

 

Underground – Company

Mine

County

Red Bone Mining Company

Crawdad #1

Monongalia

Ten Mile Coal Company, Inc

Ten Mile #4 Mine

Harrison

Tunnel Ridge, LLC

Sentinel Mine

Ohio

XMV, Inc

#35 Mine

McDowell

Spartan Mining Company

Lower War Eagle

McDowell

Spartan Mining Company

Road Fork #51 Mine

Wyoming

Raw Coal Mining Inc.

Sewell R.

McDowell

Pinnacle Mining Co. LLC

Pinnacle Mine

Wyoming

Mingo Logan Coal Company

Mountaineer II

Logan

Emerald Processing, LLC

Eagle Mine

Boone

Elk Run Coal Company, Inc.

Round Bottom Powellton

Boone

Aracoma Coal Company, Inc.

Hernshawn Mine

Logan

Elk Run Coal Company, Inc.

Rockhouse Powellton

Boone

Maple Coal Company

Maple Eagle No. 1

Fayette

Selah Corporation

Mine No. 2

Kanawha

ICG Beckley, LLC

Beckley Pocahontas

Raleigh

Kingston Mining

Kingston #1 Mine

Fayette

Speed Mining

American Eagle

Kanawha

 

Surface – Company

Mine

County

L. P. Minerals, LLC

Humphrey No. 7

Monongalia

L. P. Minerals, LLC

Ralph Six

Marion

Extra Energy, Inc.

Low Gap Surface Mine

McDowell

Chestnut Land Holding, LLC

Dalton Branch Refuse

McDowell

Onyx Energy, LLC

Weyanoke Surface

Mercer

Extra Energy, Inc.

State Line Surface

McDowell

Extra Energy, Inc.

Easter Ridge Surface

McDowell

Independence Coal Company

Twilight MTR/Progress Surface

Boone

Highland Mining Company

Reylas Surface

Logan

Coal River Mining

Mine #6

Boone

Cliffs Logan Co. Coal, LLC

Tony’s Fork Surface

Logan

Thunder Hill Coal Co.

Callisto Mine

Boone

Maple Coal Company

Maple Coal #1

Fayette

JMAC Leading, Inc.

Briar Mountain

Kanawha

ARJ Construction Co.

#1 Surface Mine

Greenbrier

South Fork coal Co., Inc.

Blue Knob Surface

Greenbrier

Remington LLC

Winchester

Kanawha

 

Preparation Plant – Company

Mine

County

ACI Tygart Valley

Leer Prep Plant

Taylor

Carter Roag Coal co.

Star Bridge Plant

Randolph

Tunnel Ridge, LLC

Prep Plant

Ohio

Pinnacle Mining Co. LLC

Pinnacle Prep Plant

McDowell

Litwar Processing Co. LLC

Easter Ridge Surface

Wyoming

Emerald Processing LLC

South Hollow Plant

Boone

Coal River Processing, LLC

Fork Creek Prep Plant

Boone

Cliffs Logan Co. Coal, LLC

Saunders Prep Plant

Logan

Maple Coal Company

Maple Prep Plant

Fayette

ICG Beckley, LLC

Beckley Pocahontas Plant

Raleigh

Brooks Run Mining Co.

No. 1 Prep Plant

Webster

Simmons Fork Mining, Inc.

Pax Loadout

Fayette

Catenary Coal Company

Tom’s Fork Loadout

Kanawha

 

Quarries – Company

Mine

County

L. P. Minerals, LLC

Humphrey Quarry #1

Monongalia

Boxley Aggregates of WV

Beckley Plant

Raleigh

 

Contractors – Company

Mine

County

Keyrock

Energy, Inc.

Statewide

 
Sorry, Mr. Obama, Africa Needs Coal
August, 19 2014

Africa faces a dilemma: It's vulnerable to climate change but needs coal to grow robustly. So which way are Africans going?

Africa is the kind of place that makes power companies rub their hands with glee. Economies there have grown steadily, an average 6 percent per year, even though nearly half of the continent’s 1.2 billion people have no electricity. Just think what a little power would do for growth – and the business opportunities for providing that power!

http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2014/0815/Sorry-Mr.-Obama-Africa-needs-coal?cmpid=twitterfeed&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

 
WVCA Addresses Kanawha County Commission on Job Losses
August, 19 2014
CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Coal Association was invited to Thursday’s meeting of the Kanawha County Commission to discuss the impact of the recent layoff announcements that could potentially impact as many as 1400 coal miners – many of them from Kanawha and surrounding counties.

WVCA Senior Vice President Chris Hamilton and Vice President Jason Bostic met with the Commission, providing up-to-date information regarding the layoffs. Hamilton spoke about the issue at the regular Commission Meeting Thursday evening in Charleston.

Using 2008 as the baseline year in comparison to 2013/2014, Kanawha County has seen a 25 percent decrease in direct coal jobs – from  1,861 in 2008 to just 1,400 today, along with a loss of approximately 3,000 indirect jobs that are dependent on the industry.  Production has also declined 25 percent during that time. And the economy has lost approximately $85 million.

Statewide, direct coal mining employment has fallen from 20,927 to just 16,500 (counting the additional 1,400 announced layoffs) – a decline of 21 percent from 2008. Production has fallen from 165 million tons to just 117 million tons with surface mining declining by more than 50 percent. The overall impact has been a loss to the economy in wages alone is estimated at almost $750 million along with approximately $80 million in coal severance taxes.

These losses are the result of a number of factors, including an uncertain national economy and competition from low-priced natural gas, but much of the loss of production is due to the policies pursued by the Obama Administration and implemented by the EPA.  These policies have essentially forced the closure of hundreds of coal-fired power plants and essentially made it increasingly difficult to mine, transport and use coal.

Kanawha County commissioners agreed that something must be done to counter the loss of production and jobs, going on record calling for the state to do whatever it can to protect the industry and provide incentives for mining and using West Virginia coal within the state.
 
Joel L. Watts
Administrator

Chris Hamilton
Co-Chair

Fred Tucker
Co-Chair




Amid soaring fuel prices and energy crunches in various parts of the country, we'd like to take this opportunity to thank an old friend and applaud West Virginia's readily available and abundant energy source - Coal!

While many states who rely on natural gas, nuclear, oil and other base fuels for electric generation are facing extremely high bills this winter, West Virginia enjoys some of the lowest electric costs in the nation thanks to coal.



West Virginian's should be thankful that we have an inexpensive and dependable energy source to power our lives. Coal, it works for West Virginia

 

1615 Washington Street East - Charleston, WV 25301 - 304.957.2306