W.Va. Chamber: Coal regulations will increase health care costs

John O'Brien Nov. 20, 2009, 2:39pm


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) - The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce says the state's two long-standing senators should refuse to vote on health care reform until it is assured regulations on the coal industry will be eased.

Chamber President Steve Roberts said Friday there's a war on coal/energy that has been growing since President Barack Obama took office and urged Democratic Sens. Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller to delay their votes on health care.

"This war against coal and domestic energy threatens our state and its citizens with increased poverty, lost tax revenues and economic disruption," Roberts said.

"This needs to end before irreparable damage sets in."

Job losses and poverty contribute to poor health, Roberts said.

"It seems counterintuitive to ask taxpayers in this country to pour money and take on a trillion dollars in future debt to expand health care coverage and benefits while at the same time the Obama administration and Congress are working to destroy jobs, eliminate good health care benefits and hurt people's well-being," he said.

Elements of the war on coal/energy, Roberts said, are:

-Climate change legislation that will raise energy prices for coal-fired power plants;

-Regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant;

-Reviews of federal mining permits;

-New requirements for greenhouse gas emission permits;

-Classifying coal combustion byproducts as hazardous waste; and

-More oversight of state surface coal mining programs.

"Votes to advance national health care reform are at razor-thin margins in both houses of Congress, and West Virginia's congressional delegation needs to use this time - and their clout and seniority -- to get this anti-coal situation stopped," Roberts said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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