They said that the agency’s efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions from power plants poses an extreme threat to “hundreds of thousands” of union workers employed in the utility, railroad, construction and related industries. The letter was signed by six trade union leaders representing transport workers, boiler makers, electricians, utility workers and coal miners. The letter was also sent to EPA Director Lisa Jackson, Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, Congress and AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka.
In addition to reminding him that carbon capture and storage has not been commercially developed in the U.S. yet, they also state three primary concerns. For the first time in 40 years, the EPA is applying the same rules to coal-fired generation as it is to gas-fired power. Instead of being technology- or fuel-neutral, the proposed rule discriminates against new coal units. The rule places an unprecedented burden of addressing global climate change on one industry sector in one country.
Where have these people been for the past four years? It is easy to understand that during the 2012 presidential campaign these left-leaning constituents would hide in the wings secretly hoping for a change in leadership that would support true job growth in the private sector. Where were they three years ago when the EPA declared war on coal? Unlike some members of Congress, they were afraid to break rank and speak up for the people they represent. Instead, they left the responsibility of challenging the EPA’s authority to the coal operators and the National Mining Association (NMA).
Why did they have to copy Trumka? Why didn’t the leader of the largest labor group sign it? He is not simply some administrator that was promoted through the ranks to lead the AFL-CIO. He was the leader of the United Mine Workers of America prior to Cecil Roberts. Apparently he now has to be reminded by memorandum that the coal industry is fighting to preserve its future.
The reason is that labor and radical environmental activism cannot coexist. Environmental activists pursue agendas without regard for the cost to society. Factories close and the jobs migrate to regions that have fewer environmental considerations. Power companies can only pass the costs along to ratepayers. Environmental activists assume that consumers (taxpayers) or the government (taxpayers) will pick up the tab just as it has for renewable energy. Unions need jobs to sustain their membership and they, similar to the companies they support, have to remain cost competitive. Those companies need to be able to do business in a setting that treats them fairly and allows them to plan for the long term.
Perhaps the president will hear their 11th hour plea, but it will probably fall on deaf ears.