The Alliance is the summer marriage between the venerable Pennsylvania Coal Association and Families Organized to Represent the Coal Economy (FORCE). They joined forces and tapped former Republican State Senator John Pippy to lead the consolidated effort. Pippy, 41, is a veteran legislator in the Keystone state, having served as senator from 2003 until his retirement from politics June 30 and, before that, pulling a seven-year stint in the state House of Representatives.

Pippy is CEO of the Alliance. George Ellis, who served as president of the now-defunct coal association, stayed on as president of the Alliance and serves as the group’s principal lobbyist.

Ellis said Pippy’s long tenure as a lawmaker, combined with his training as an environmental engineer, makes him “uniquely qualified to lead the Alliance as we begin a new chapter. It has become clear recently that we need a stronger, more unified voice as our industry works toward technical advances to become even cleaner—while remaining the most affordable energy sources for Pennsylvanians.”

The Alliance plans to protect and grow the state’s coal industry that provides 9,000 direct mining jobs and 41,500 indirect jobs, generating $7.5 billion in economic benefit annually. Pennsylvania produces more than 60 million tons of coal a year.

The industry applauded an executive order signed in July by Republican Governor Tom Corbett that is designed to expedite permitting decisions by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Management. “Permitting in many ways is taking a lot longer than it has in the past,” Pippy said in an interview. “Through the executive order, we believe it definitely is a strong, positive step in the right direction. In some cases, it will have an immediate impact” on processing permit applications, “and will set a template as we look into the future.”