Coal companies announce layoffs, blame Obama administration

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Pointing their fingers in part at regulations the Obama administration has imposed on their industry, two coal companies announced layoffs Friday.

Pennsylvania’s PBS Coals Inc. and the affiliated RoxCoal Inc. announced that they would idle some of their deep and surface mines, laying off 225 employees in the process.

“Both the foreign and domestic coal markets remain soft due to weak economic growth and activity,” PBS Coals president and CEO D. Lynn Shanks explained in a statement. “Additionally, the escalating costs and uncertainty generated by recently advanced EPA regulations and interpretations have created a challenging business climate for the entire coal industry.”

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which first reported the layoff, the company employs 795 workers.

In Alledonia, Ohio, Murray Energy Corp. announced Friday it would lay off 29 union coal mining jobs at The Ohio Valley Coal Co.’s Powhatan No. 6 Mine.

“The failed energy policies of the Obama administration and the ‘war on coal’ that the president and his Democrat supporters have unleashed are the direct causes of this layoff,” said Powhatan mine general manager Ronald Koontz, according to The Wheeling Intelligencer. “Unfortunately, for us, this is just the beginning [of] the work force reductions.”

The Powhatan mine is still expected to employ 680 people, but Koontz was not optimistic for his company’s future while the Obama administration remains in power.

“We are deeply disappointed and saddened that we had to take this action, but the excessive and unnecessary actions of the Obama administration have disrupted our mining operations and taken away much of the market for our coal,” Koontz added. “In turn, this will drive up electricity costs for everyone and increase the cost of goods for American citizens.”

Heavy competition from natural gas and a warm winter have played a part in depressing the demand for coal and the companies’ misfortunes.

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Caroline May