One of the most challenging issues facing the U.S. coal industry today is the issuance of Clean Water Act permits. As a result of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) severe regulations recently placed on the coal industry, a large number of permits have been significantly delayed or are not issued altogether. The results of these mandates are leading to increased uncertainty for our customers, thus directly impacting jobs and closures of mines throughout the U.S.
According to the National Mining Association (NMA), only 34 of 174 individual permit applications for coal mining operations submitted after June 2009 had been issued as of August 2012, while 45 were withdrawn at the expense of new jobs and economic growth.
Steve Wunning, Caterpillar Group President of Resources Industries, recently joined Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (pictured top right) at Cat Dealer Whayne Supply in Kentucky for McConnell’s announcement that he would be introducing legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to require more timely approval of certain permits required for coal mining and other business activities. The “Coal Jobs Protection Act,” which Caterpillar supports, would require the EPA to approve or veto a Clean Water Act in a much shorter period of time. Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), partnering with McConnell, will also introduce the legislation in the House of Representatives.
Caterpillar has a long history serving our coal mining customers throughout the U.S. and the world. Our dealer network, which supports mining customers world-wide, employs thousands of people that depend largely on the coal mining business. These jobs are in addition to the great multitude of jobs at Caterpillar facilities designing and manufacturing industry-leading mining products.
“Without question, everyone wants cleaner air and affordable energy. We, however, believe that the two do not need to be mutually exclusive,” stated Wunning. “As we discuss an energy-independent future, it's important to remember that the U.S. has the largest reserve of coal in the world and more than 750,000 jobs reliant on the coal industry. We should count on coal to be a viable, economical and safer source of energy for many years to come. There have been remarkable gains in the efficiency and cleanliness of coal power in recent decades. We need to work together to give coal the opportunity to be an affordable and cleaner energy option.”