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UMWA responds to Rep. Conyer’s statement for the coal industry to shut down

August 24, 2011
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[TRIANGLE, VA] United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“I was extremely disappointed to read Rep. John Conyers’ (D-Mich.) statements at an event yesterday in which he said the coal industry should be shut down. It’s mystifying how someone who has historically been on the side of American working people can take such a narrow and short-sighted approach regarding the jobs of millions of American workers.

“Rep. Conyers did say that his understanding of the coal issue is ‘limited,’ so perhaps he would do well to learn something about the issues before he makes imprudent statements like the ones he made regarding the coal industry and West Virginia coal miners.

“Here are a few facts that he should know: Coal use is getting cleaner every day, and the fact is that without coal, the ability of our nation to generate anything like the energy we need will be nonexistent. It is in our nation’s best economic, strategic and long-term interests to do all we can to continue developing carbon capture and storage technology so that we can continue to use our most abundant natural resource: coal.

“Here’s another fact he should know: West Virginia is only one of more than 20 states where coal is found and produced. There are over 100,000 Americans directly involved in the production of coal, with another 300,000 providing direct support for the industry. When one counts the railroad workers who transport coal and the power plant workers who convert it into electricity, plus all the workers who build, maintain and support those industries and their families, the number of people who count on coal are in the millions.

“Surely Rep. Conyers is not suggesting that we throw more good, well-paying American jobs out the door. I urge Rep. Conyers to take another look at the facts and spend some time talking with the UMWA and other organizations representing the people he would throw out of work so that he can gain a greater understanding of the true facts on this issue.”

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