“My name is Shad Montgomery”

We recently received this letter from an ACC member company representative who asked that we consider reprinting it.

This letter was written and presented by a Mr. Shad Montgomery at the EPA’s Chicago Listening Session. Mr. Montgomery is the Safety Director at Sunrise Coal. His letter tells a story that is being heard throughout the coal industry. As increasingly strict EPA regulations forcibly shutter mines and coal plants, and stifle the new development of cleaner, more efficient coal plants, many in the coal industry are facing a bleak economic reality, as are their families and friends.

Perhaps the most disturbing portion of Mr. Montgomery’s letter is when he describes the many people who live near or below the poverty line who are (literally) making a monthly decision to either pay their electric bill or buy food. This is a shameful and offensive outcome of the damage being done to our nation’s energy supply.

People—IN THE UNITED STATES, IN 2013—are being forced to choose between heating and eating.

These people are being forced to make those choices, not because their is no other choice, but because one government department is dead set on passing extreme and massively expensive regulations that will have little to no real-world effect on emissions.

This story does not have to continue, however. New technologies are making coal-fueled electricity more efficient and clean. Additionally coal remains one the most (if not ‘the most’) affordable domestic energy options, despite stiff competition and the war of attrition that is being waged against it by government, NGO’s, and media.

Coal’s supporters need to speak up, connect with their elected officials, send their comments to the EPA, and get involved right now or we will see more and more shameful, sad, and wholly unnecessary stories like this one.

If you know of a similar story—if you are being forced to choose between heating and eating; if you have lost (or expect to lose your job) because of EPA-induced shutdowns, if you are working to find a way to continue, despite the ongoing war on coal, please send your story to Jason Hayes, ACC Associate Director.

My name is Shad Montgomery; I live in a small town just south of Terre Haute Indiana. I would like to thank you for allowing me to speak today.

Like my grandfather and great grandfather I am a coal miner. I’ve been mining in the Illinois Coal Basin for just over twenty years and have provided a good living for my family. I’ve meet hundreds if not thousands of miners over my career and the pride that comes from being a miner cannot be overstated.

We are very proud to be a part of what made this nation great. From the miners who produced coal that manufactured steel during the world wars to providing affordable power for factories, schools, hospitals and homes across our nation today. But this isn’t why I`m here.

I didn’t come here today to talk about the thousands of miners in Indiana alone that will have their jobs affected by this regulation. Nor did I come here today to discuss that our coal fired power plants produce energy 90% cleaner than 40 years ago. And that Indiana’s coal-based electric utilities have reduced carbon-dioxide emissions by 23 percent since 2005 alone.

I wanted to talk about the millions of people who have remained silent because they knew nothing about this proposed regulation or they simply thought this regulation wouldn’t affect them. Let’s discuss the 190,000 Hoosiers that are 60 years and older living at or below the poverty level. 29% of this group makes the decision each month to buy food or pay their electric bill; choosing to limit the amount of heat in the winter or not run the air on 100 degree summer days.

My Mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, is in this category. We spend the first of each month counting pennies to see she gets through the month. This regulation will hurt hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers, like her, who cannot afford higher electrical rates. Especially due to a regulation that will not have a meaningful impact on global Green House Gas Emissions.

Our companies in Indiana have seen their electrical rates rise 60% over the last ten years, with residential rates climbing over 45%. (Still, it is far cheaper than the national averages.) Our power plants have been scrambling, spending millions of dollars to comply with regulations passed over the years and now it’s not good enough, you want more.

Factories, huge companies, and small family owned businesses, employing tens of thousands of Hoosiers, are operating on a fine line between profit and loss. Your proposed regulation on existing Power Plants and the 30-100% rate increase will drive the small operators out of business and the large factories and companies overseas where it’s much more affordable to operate.

Americans have been hit hard over the past few years. Higher taxes, fuel cost are soaring, millions are losing their health care or their premiums are skyrocketing. How much more should we pay, how many more regulations can we pass? How many more Hoosiers will have to make the decision to buy food or pay for power?

Make no mistake; this won’t just affect the miner. It will affect all of us. Especially the millions of Americans who make minimum wage, Americans not working at all, Americans who are struggling living day to day.

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02. December 2013 by Jason Hayes
Categories: agenda, Careers, Election 2014, Environment, EPA, Jobs, Marketplace Information, Mining, Policy, Power Generation, Regulation, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 comment