Auditor Glen Gainer said, "We support these efforts 100 percent. Unreasonable, new regulations would not only affect every coal miner in West Virginia, but everyone who uses electricity in America.
"And unreasonable regulations would put us at a disadvantage with every other country in the world," Gainer said.
Chris Hamilton, vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said, "Coal severance tax revenues have recently dropped from over $500 million to $400 million. A dozen coal-fired generating units [in power plants] in West Virginia have been closed. The cumulative impact is already devastating."
Other factors also play significant roles in declining production, Hamilton acknowledged, including "less expensive and abundant natural gas, warm weather and a national recession."
But he said coal is still the world's leading fuel.
"China and India can produce it at low cost. In West Virginia, we still have the ability to be the energy capital of the nation and the world.
"Coal miners typically make between $75,000 and $80,000 a year. Losing coal jobs cuts spending and buying power in coal communities. It has a real domino effect," Hamilton said.
Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, said, "I am hopeful that the Obama administration might listen to those of you who are Democrats. <t40>...<t$> If we can't solve it in Washington, we have the opportunity to solve it at the ballot box."
Despite losing West Virginia by a wide margin, President Obama was re-elected last year.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.