With regular news of job losses coming from the Appalachian coal industry, an unlikely pair of US congressmen have teamed up to try to assist workers that have suffered from the industry downturn. Republican Representative David McKinley of West Virginia and Democrat, Peter Welch, of Vermont have proposed legislation that would help support out-of-work miners.
Over 20,000 jobs have been lost in the coal industry since 2011, according to federal statistics. The latest of these came as Alpha Natural Resources announced it was to idle three of its mines in West Virginia with the loss of 261 jobs. Another eight of the company’s mines have been warned that they face idling by 26 November.
“Across West Virginia communities are being decimated by what’s happening to the coal industry,” said McKinley in a press statement. “Coal miners and other workers are being hurt by factors beyond their control, whether it’s regulations or market forces. It’s only fair we do something to help these struggling families. This legislation represents a bipartisan effort to move beyond our differences and offer help to the proud men and women of the coal industry who are out of work.”
The proposed Healthy Employee Loss Prevention (HELP) Act would provide support for workers who had lost their jobs due to the “downturn in the coal industry related to a variety of factors, including cheaper alternative fuel sources, federal regulations, existence of state to state energy markets.” Eligible workers would receive benefits for a year, as well as assistance with retraining, job searches and relocation.
The National Mining Association called the proposed legislation “well intentioned” but argued that it only addressed the symptoms of the problem without going to the cause of the issue: "Far better would have been environmental regulations that don't contribute to the wholesale destruction of a regional industry and the high-wage employment it supports," Luke Popovich, an association spokesman, told the Burlington Free Press.
Written by Jonathan Rowland.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/mining/02102014/world-coal-lawmakers-propose-assistance-for-laid-off-coal-miners-coal1384/