WHEELING - While the economy has brought struggles for many energy producers, the coal industry faces uphill challenges every day in the United States, according to Rob Murray, vice president of business development and external affairs for Murray Energy Corp.
"The coal industry and our companies are under attack by the Obama Administration's out-of-control U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, whose overreaching and job-killing greenhouse gas, air and water regulations are threatening the local economy and the 15,000 primary and secondary jobs that our companies provide," Murray said.
"The U.S. EPA has usurped the authority of the United States Congress and is operating without accountability.
Workers at Murray Energy Corp.’s Powhatan No. 6 mine run a roof bolting machine, which helps stabilize the mine as longwall activity takes place.
"This rogue agency must be made to justify their decisions and promulgation of regulations that destroy the livelihoods of millions of Americans, including those in the Ohio Valley who depend on the coal industry and low-cost electricity."
Meanwhile, Murray Energy operates one of the most efficient coal transloading facilities in the country.
The Powhatan Transportation Center, located on the Ohio River at Powhatan Point, is owned by The Ohio Valley Transloading Co., whose parent company is Ohio Valley Resource Inc. Ohio Valley Resource Inc. is an independent operating subsidiary of Murray Energy Corp.
How will the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regulations on mining and burning coal affect our local companies?
The coal industry has been battling federal regulations for decades, and companies such as Murray Energy Corp., which is the largest independent coal company in the nation, continue to fight for workers and the future of the industry.
The Powhatan Transportation Center "is a coal throughput and transloading facility that is very strategic and critical to our operations. (The center) transloads approximately 14 million tons of coal per year with 24 employees," Murray said. "The coal is mined, processed and transported to PTC from The Ohio Valley Coal Co.'s Powhatan No. 6 Mine and American Energy Corp.'s Century Mine, both of which are also independent operating subsidiaries of Murray Energy Corp. and are located in Belmont and Monroe counties."
The coal is transported from the mines to Powhatan by shuttle trains and trucks, where the coal is then transloaded into river barges. From there, the river barges containing the coal are transported to electric power generating stations located along the Ohio River in Ohio and West Virginia, where the coal is consumed and used to generate electric power for residents and businesses in Ohio and West Virginia, Murray noted.
"We are very proud of the fact that our locally produced and consumed coal provides Ohioans and West Virginians with low-cost electricity, which is essential for residents who live on fixed incomes and for businesses that rely on low-cost electricity to manufacture their products so that they can compete in the global marketplace," Murray said. "To replace our locally produced coal at these power plants, coal would have to delivered in from other states at a greater distance, which would increase the cost of the coal as well as the electricity that is generated from it. For these reasons, PTC is very strategic and critical to our business and the local economy because it provides us with an economical means to transport our coal to market."
As for upgrades in 2011, Murray said that the Powhatan Transportation Center is already highly productive and is expanding.
"PTC is already one of the most, if not the most, productive coal throughput terminal on the Ohio River.
"But, we are currently expanding it to transload up to 18 million tons of coal per year from trucks and trains to barges. A $5 million construction project is under way to build a new truck dumping and coal storage facility, which will be completed by mid-year."
Ohio American Energy Inc., which is also an independent operating subsidiary of Murray Energy located in Jefferson County, provides approximately 1,400 coal mining jobs.