There’s more bad news for Kentucky’s energy sector in the wake of Big Sandy 2’s decision to not continue its coal-fired operations. This time, the victim of the Environmental Protection Agency’s unpredictable regulations is Arch Coal.
Yesterday, Arch Coal announced 750 layoffs of Appalachian coal workers – and 79% of those will be from our eastern Kentucky coal fields. The St. Louis-based coal company will be closing its facilities in Pike, Marion, and Knott Counties.
Although there are natural economic forces that have contributed to the demise of Arch Coal, the EPA’s war on Appalachia cannot be ignored when discussing these 750 jobs that have been lost. The EPA’s Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) regulations – which managed to escape Congressional annulment yesterday – not only guarantee that no new coal-fired power plants can be established in the future, they also threaten existing plants in the present, as we see today.
As Gov. Beshear put it:
“As unfortunate as this news is, it cannot be said that it was wholly unexpected. Demand for coal is at a 20-year low, thanks to a rapidly shifting energy market and high inventory. Unpredictable federal regulation processes have also hindered legal mining efforts, and we will continue to fight the unfair regulatory changes that effectively delay or halt our mining projects.”
Let’s hope so, for the sake of Appalachia’s economic well-being.