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Capito: Coal Decline Caused By 'All of the Above' - But Regulations Easiest to Change

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Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., says that the current decline in coal-related employment is caused by many factors. But she says as a U.S. Senator, she would focus on the one she believes she can influence: environmental regulations.

In an interview with West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the candidate for U.S. Senate said the decline in coal jobs was caused by three things:

  1. “A large part of it” is the regulatory environment, “certainly the EPA”
  2. A rise in natural gas available
  3. Poor market conditions -- exports are down because of decreased demand worldwide

“I think it is all of the above,” Capito said. “But I do think, some things you can’t change, but you certainly can change the regulatory environment.”
The Obama Administration is proposing limits on greenhouse gases that could significantly reduce coal-fired power production. If Republicans take control of the Senate, they could try to cut off funding for the EPA to develop and implement these rules.

“I do think a change in the regulatory climate will have a long term effect, because you’ve got to look at a base load of energy generation,” she said. “In a state like West Virginia, which is so heavily reliant on coal for power generation, that’s not just turning the lights on, that’s also manufacturing jobs.”

Capito would not concede that the coal industry was in a state or permanent decline, despite a steady decline of easily-mineable reserves and a decades-long drop in mining jobs.

“Certainly, it will probably not rebound up to the point where it has been at its peak, and I think we all realize that,” she said. “But I think we will see a regeneration in the coalfields, because its the make-sense energy producer for the country.”

As to helping the coalfields diversify their economies, Capito mentioned the development of the biometric industry around Marshall University.

But she says she doesn’t want to give the impression she’s not focused on coal.

“We don’t want to hoist the flag on our coal industry at all, because its still a very vital part of our economic fabric in West Virginia.”


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