VINCENNES, Ind. (WTHI) – Vincennes University’s President’s Room played host Tuesday to a group of coal industry elite. The meeting was summoned by coal industry advocates; Indiana’s Coal Council, and Hoosiers Count on Coal.
Tuesday’s meeting was the second of 2014 hosted on VU’s campus welcoming a member from United States Legislature. In February, United States Representative Larry Bucshon attended a Coal Summit at the University.
United States Senator Dan Coats was in attendance at Tuesday’s summit; the lawmaker asked for feedback from coal industry leaders. This, following a new set of regulations expected to be rolled out by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The message did not bode well with the represented coal companies, which told Coats the industry was already watered down in regulation.
“They think that we’re just, the coal companies are just belching the air with bad stuff, but begun to understand that hundreds of millions of dollars, billions of dollars have been spent controlling these emissions,” said, Dan Coats, U.S. Senator, (R-Ind).
One company leader addressed the crowd and noted that federal regulations changed how the energy companies maintained and treated inflowing, and outgoing water; now fearing that a change for air emissions would cause plants to raise energy prices, lose workforce, and damage the economy.
“Power plants are now going to have to, or electric utilities rather are now going to have to make the decision of do we stay with coal or do we go with another fuel source,” said Stephanie McFarland, Indiana Representative, Hoosiers Count on Coal. “These aren’t your Starbucks jobs, these are $65-$75,000 a year jobs,” she added.
Coal supporters argue that regulating the industry would result in a loss of workforce; coal mines, and energy manufacturers would pay fines, and the cost to operate the industry would rise. That rise, the expert noted, would be felt most by energy members. One industry expert noted that the rising cost of energy would send local manufacturers like Toyota (in Princeton) ‘To Mexico.’
“You can’t run this country on wind mills and solar panels. Some times the sun doesn’t shine and sometimes the wind doesn’t blow, but coal is there to provide that base of support that is absolutely essential to our economy,” said Coats.