US coal miner, James River Coal, has announced it has idled coal production at several of its eastern Kentucky operations with the loss of 525 jobs.
In a press statement, the company blamed the continued weakness in the domestic and international coal markets for the action. The company gave no indication when the operations may resume coal production, saying it was “subject to the coal market”.
Kentucky coal employment now at lowest level
Speaking to The Daily Caller News Foundation, Republican congressman, Hal Rogers, called it a “dire and disastrous situation”.
According to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, coal employment is at its lowest level in Kentucky since 1922.
New rules to add to coal industry’s woes
The US coal industry has been hit by low natural gas prices, reduced global demand for coal and increased environmental regulation. New rules from the US Environmental Protection Agency to be announced this week are expected to prevent the building of new coal-fired power plants without carbon capture and storage – further adding to the industry’s woes.
“We’re getting the living crap beaten out of us,” West Virginian senator, Joe Manchin, said during Senate questioning of Ron Binz, President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the US energy regulator. “There has been nothing more beat up than coal.”
Binz’s nomination has been controversial with Republicans and conservative groups, who claim he used his time as utilities regulatory in Colorado to push an environmentalist agenda.
Edited from various sources by Jonathan Rowland
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