The harm caused by EPA’s regulatory assault on the coal industry is spreading to communities throughout coal country. Miners in West Virginia and Kentucky were the first to feel the consequences of President Obama’s war on coal when they lost their jobs as the industry responds to plummeting utility demand for coal.
According to SNL Financial, more than 25,000 miner jobs were lost since 2011.
Now utility workers and their surrounding communities are feeling the impact as power companies close coal-fired power plants in response to a series of EPA regulations issued during Obama’s first term. Utility executives are finding it cheaper to close plants instead of retrofitting them to comply with EPA’s regulatory mandates.
A story in the Charleston Daily Mail describes the economic impact to the town of Louisa, KY as it prepares to deal with the planned closure of the Big Sandy power plant.
For decades, the nearby Big Sandy power plant did more than keep the lights on – it supplied this Appalachian town with a bounty of tax revenue and some of the best-paying jobs around as it converted regional coal into electricity.
Massive piles of coal are still stacked outside the Big Sandy complex, but now its prospects are dim.
Kentucky Power Co., which operates the two-unit Big Sandy complex in Lawrence County, plans to close the larger 800-megawatt unit in 2015. Dozens of prime jobs will be lost in a county of 16,000 people with little other industry and a jobless rate around 10 percent.
“It’s bad and it’s going to get worse,” County Attorney Mike Hogan said.
Mom-and-pop stores lining the small downtown worry the fallout will hurt business. The school district is bracing for a potentially big loss of revenue as an economic mainstay prepares to downsize in the hilly county across the Big Sandy River from West Virginia.
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