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Appalachian Coal Jobs Reach 14-Year High

A little-covered news item from Nov. 18 bears much more attention. The Charleston Gazette's Ken Ward reported on some new data that blows the top off two years of coal industry lies and spin: Obama's so-called "job-killing regulations" and "war on coal" are not actually killing jobs, they are CREATING JOBS! We've been saying it all along, but here's the proof.

Since the Obama administration has taken initial steps to crack down on the coal industry's rampant pollution, which is contaminating waters and air across the nation, exposing families and communities to carcinogenic and poisonous toxic pollution, coal mining jobs have increased. By 10 percent! Since Obama's EPA began increasing mountaintop-removal-related protections on streams and waters!

From the Associated Press's story:

The number of coal jobs in the region has increased by 10 percent since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began a crackdown on mountaintop-removal mining in June 2009, Matt Wasson, director of programs for the group Appalachian Voices, said his review of the MSHA data.

One would think this news would finally snuff out years worth of multi-million dollar advertising campaigns by coal industry front groups and put an end the fallacy of a "war on coal" and "job-killing regulations," but the truth is, as long as the coal industry is spending tens of millions of dollars on lobbying and political campaign contributions (hundreds of millions if you count the coal-fired power plant sector), the damage is done.

But still, we can demand these false advertising and bogus PR spin campaigns be at long last shut down. And we can hold our elected officials who take this dirty money and perpetuate these lies accountable. Don't know where yours stands? Find yours here and see who takes coal's dirty money, or visit LCV's Special Edition Scorecard and see who voted for mountaintop removal mining and against clean water earlier this year (tip: see vote no. 13 within this document).

In Ward's story, some coal officials were quoted saying that jobs are up now, but just wait till the permits start getting denied. Oops, that contradicts what the CEO of Appalachia's largest coal company, Alpha Natural Resources (which bought out Massey Energy this year) told his investers and board members earlier this month, as Ward reported

We feel pretty good about what we have permitted so far," Alpha CEO Kevin Crutchfield said. "There's nothing in 2012 that is contingent upon any sort of regulatory relaxation or need.

It's imperative that the American public know that this isn't about job loss. This is about wealthy coal corporations' ability to continue to increase their margin of profits without having to hire more people to work, without having to clean up their mess and without having to regard the health and safety of their workers or the communities near their mines. Ending mountaintop removal mining will create jobs and protect families and communities. Armed with this information, we must demand that our government stop mountaintop removal mining for once and for all.