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Miners rally against EPA plan they say will hit Arizona, other coal mines

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Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014

By Stephen Hicks


ANGELIE MEEHAN/CRONKITE NEWS: The proposed Clean Power Plan from the Environmental Protection Agency has drawn an unlikely group of opponents in Washington, D.C. – labor unions. Stephen Hicks was at a coal miners’ rally in the nation’s capital and joins us live from our Washington bureau.

STEPHEN HICKS/CRONKITE NEWS: Today, members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) came to Washington to protest the EPA’s proposal, calling for an end to the proposal they say will close coal mines across the country, including those in Arizona.

PROTESTERS: What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now!

STEPHEN HICKS/CRONKITE NEWS: Hundreds met here in Freedom Plaza. And after a brief rally they marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to demonstrate in front of the EPA, unhappy with the agency’s proposed reduction to carbon emissions. According to some in the union, there are other ways to fix the problem.

MIKE DALPIAZ/UMWA WESTERN STATES REPRESENTATIVE: We’re mining it and we’re burning it but there’s no cleaning process in the middle and this government ought to step up instead of making ridiculous regulations to eliminate it. Let’s clean it before we burn it. There’s nothing wrong with that picture.

STEPHEN HICKS/CRONKITE NEWS: He went on to say that the proposed regulations would have an affect on Arizona, since the Kayenta coal mine in Navajo Nation is one of the largest in the Southwest.

MIKE DALPIAZ/UMWA WESTERN STATES REPRESENTATIVE: That will still devastate our coal out in the Western United States. Particularly our whole plants in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, all over.

STEPHEN HICKS/CRONKITE NEWS: Others at the rally said that even if the U.S. eliminated all of its coal mining, it would only affect 1 percent of worldwide carbon emissions.

VERONICA BUCCILLI/EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT OF BOILERMAKERS LOCAL: We’ve already come so far and made great strides and yet they’re still not pleased with us. And not only are they not pleased with us, they want to send our energy over to other countries who are going to emit the CO2 emissions anyway.

STEPHEN HICKS/CRONKITE NEWS: However, Tierra Curry from the Center for Biological Diversity said that there has been great opposition to coal mining nationally, and that coal is part of the past. She said that while a move to other sources of energy may be tough for mining regions in the short term, long term it will be a good thing.

STEPHEN HICKS/CRONKITE NEWS: The EPA said in a statement that coal power will still remain a part of the foreseeable future for the United States, and that each state is provided enormous flexibility on how to best meet its pollution goal.