Press Archive



United Mine Workers Union President Cecil Roberts says the coal industry continues to grow despite attempts in Washington to stop the use of fossil fuels.

Roberts was the keynote speaker at Wednesday's West Virginia Coal Forum held in Charleston.

Roberts says the national unemployment rate is at 9.2 percent and in West Virginia it's at 8.5 percent. He says despite the dismal numbers, there are plenty of jobs available in the coal industry.

"Everywhere I go people say, 'We can't find a job.' Well I can tell you where to find a job if you really want one. You can find a job in the coal industry," Roberts told the large crowd.

In the past five years Roberts says the union has added 3,000 new miners in West Virginia. Roberts admits a majority of those have been in one area of the state.

"Everywhere I go in northern West Virginia, I see somebody that looks like my grandson mining coal in that part of the state,” he said.

The union chief says they're making a good living thanks to new, five-year contract the rank-and-file ratified with the Bituminous Coal Operators Association back in June.

"We just got a pay raise. They got an immediate one-dollar per hour raise. They're going to get another dollar in January. That's two dollars in six months. That's an 8 percent raise in six months...And over the life of the contract, they're going to get a 25 percent overall raise. I can tell you I don't know where there's another industry that can say that,” Roberts claimed.

On top of the pay raise, there's also the benefit package that was negotiated that kept the union's substantial insurance and pension plans.

Roberts says when those who work in the mine industry are paid fair wages, it benefits everyone because they spend that money where they live.

"It's all coming back to create jobs in that area where the money comes to,” he said. “Nurses, doctors, people are buying cars from the car dealership. People are going to the grocery store. We're lifting up the economy."

Roberts says what this country needs more of is jobs. He says Congress wouldn't have brought the country to the verge of default last week with the debt crisis if more Americans were employed.

"I think the conversation should be how do we keep people working and how do we put people to work and how do we pay them excellent wages, with excellent benefits? We need more taxpayers in the United States more than anything else we can talk about."

Roberts stressed to keep the coal industry strong and adding employees, the federal EPA cannot move forward with its plan to banish coal as a form of energy.



The West Virginia Coal Forum is hosting an conversation on the potential state impact of air quality rules being implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

This conversation will feature UMWA President Cecil Roberts, representatives of our Congressional Delegation (invited), leaders of the State Legislature, representatives of industry, experts in environmental & energy policy and leaders in the electrical industry

Please mark your calendars for August 10th, 2011.  Additional details will follow shortly.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Chris Hamilton, Co-Chairman
Fred Tucker, Co-Chairman
The Coal Forum
Tel.: (304) 957-2306
1615 Washington Street East
Charleston, WV 25301

Dear Friends of The Coal Forum:
In order to better accommodate the busy schedules of our elected officials at the national, state and local levels, we are postponing The Coal Forum Conversation slated for June 21, 2011.
We appreciate the tremendously positive response we have received from all sectors of West Virginia business, government, labor, industry and the public at-large.
The new date will more closely coincide with the upcoming special session of the WV legislature.  Details will be distributed as they are finalized.
Thank you again for your overwhelming interest in this event!
Chris Hamilton, Co-Chair
Fred Tucker, Co-Chair

The West Virginia Coal Forum cordially invites you to participate in a conversation on the potential state impact of new air quality rules being promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

This conversation will feature UMWA President Cecil Roberts, representatives of our Congressional Delegation (invited), leaders of the State Legislature, representatives of industry, experts in environmental & energy policy and leaders in the electrical industry.

Join us on June 21, 2011
from 9:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. at
The Charleston Civic Center
200 Civic Center Drive, Charleston

Please RSVP with your intent to attend and any guest(s) you may wish to include by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The West Virginia Coal Forum was established to promote the viability of the state's coal industry through facilitating public discussion of such coal related issues as the level of competitiveness and productivity of the industry, the image of the industry, miner's health and safety issues, and, identifying new markets and uses for West Virginia coal.

Membership of the Coal Forum is comprised of coal operating personnel, miners' representatives, coal vendors and legislative leaders.

Chris Hamilton, Co-Chairman
Fred Tucker, Co-Chairman

The Coal Forum
Tel.: (304) 957-2306
1615 Washington Street East
Charleston, WV 25301
Wheeling News-Register - May 18, 2011

WEIRTON - Local residents were able to hear about some of the bills currently before Congress straight from one of the individuals elected to represent them in Washington, D.C.

Congressman David McKinley held a town hall meeting in Weirton's Millsop Community Center on Tuesday, hoping to discuss some of the legislation making its way through the halls of the U.S. Capitol, as well as to hear some of the residents' concerns.

 The Republican has hosted two previous town hall meetings within the 1st District. There also have been three telephone town halls, one of which the congressman said included 14,000 participants.

He said many issues have been brought up during those events, but he feels they all end up pointing back to one thing.

"It's all about jobs," McKinley said. "You can call it anything, it's all about jobs."

Whether people are talking about energy, the federal budget, taxes, regulations, federal spending or health care, McKinley said it all will affect jobs in some way.

In explaining the nation's deficit, he said he finds it helpful to compare the federal budget with that of a regular family. Instead of looking at the large numbers Congress deals with, he suggested thinking about bringing in $21,000 in revenue each year but having $37,000 in expenses. There is the option of using a credit card to cover the gap, he said of his comparison, but that has its own drawbacks.

"That card has a $140,000 debt on it, and your bank is in China," he said.

The U.S., he said, is borrowing $4.3 billion a day to help meet its expenses.

McKinley said one of the things he wants to do while in Congress is to find ways to erase uncertainties to improve the economy, and that includes finding better ways to reform health care and to get a better hold on the actions of government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency. He said federal regulations, rising costs and other issues create uncertainties, which prevent businesses from wanting to make an investment.

"When businesses aren't certain what's going to happen, they pull back," McKinley said.

McKinley noted that has been a big problem in West Virginia, as legislation such as the defeated "cap and trade" bill and increased regulations from the EPA have convinced coal and other industries not to invest in the state and help to create jobs. Meanwhile, nations without those regulations are seeing job creation and growth all the time.

Beckley Register Herald - January 12, 2010

CHARLESTON — A southern West Virginia lawmaker feels the ultimate goal of the Environmental Protection Agency is to wipe out the entire coal industry by initially outlawing the mountaintop removal practice via uncompromising regulation.

“It’s an attack on the whole industry,” Delegate Steve Kominar, D-Mingo, said in Monday’s interims session.

His criticism of the federal agency came after lawmakers heard updates on improving brownfields in a meeting of the Joint Commission on Economic Development.
Kominar and Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, zeroed in on the EPA’s insistence that mined-out mountains be restored to natural contours, with mountains even higher than the natural ones before coal was extracted, rather than be used to develop schools, golf courses, hospitals and the like, as has been accomplished at old mine sites.

“Fifty years from now, we’ll look back and say that (original contour restoration) was the worst thing we ever did in southern West Virginia,” Stollings told the commission.

Afterward, Kominar went further, portraying the EPA and environmentalists alike as forces with closed minds, refusing to look at the facts, in their resolve to outlaw coal production.

“First of all, they don’t want mountaintop removal — period,” Kominar, D-Mingo, said.

“What people don’t understand, if they’re successful — and I’m talking about a conglomerate of people — in stopping mountaintop removal, the next thing they’ll stop is traditional strip mining. And the third thing will be our underground mines.”

If the mining industry is in error, point it out, Kominar challenged.

“Let’s not base this on emotions,” the delegate said.

“Let’s base this on scientific facts. If we’re doing something wrong in the mining industry, give us the opportunity to correct it. But they can’t show us those numbers or those figures. It’s a Catch-22.”

A brownfield is an old site of a gasoline station, chemical plant or other erstwhile industrial activity that raises environmental issues.

Appearing before the panel were George Carico and Patrick Kirby, directors of the Southern and Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center, respectively, based at West Virginia and Marshall universities.

Each center has functioned since 2005 and works with local governments to help them turn used sites into viable new entities. In its brief history, the program has leveraged $4 million from the EPA for such assistance, but actually has amassed a budget that is $2 million larger with various grants.

Illustrating how the center works, Carico told of efforts to help the Fayette County town of Ansted find use for the old Ansted High School.

The town needs a central location to house town offices, since they now are scattered about, but there also exist needs for a community center to hold weddings and other family outings, and a location for a small business, Carico said.

As for the latter, he noted, one man is interested in leasing a classroom to run an Internet-based business.

Kirby explained that grants given by the Benedum Foundation come into play, typically $5,000 outlays to help communities get some mileage out of an old gasoline station or industrial complex.

“I know $5,000 doesn’t sound like much, but that puts a lot of momentum for a project,” Kirby said.

Carico said the centers have made some measured progress in the five years they have worked in the local communities.

“West Virginia is way behind when it comes to brownfields cleanup,” he told the commission.

“But we’re catching up.”