Coal Tattoo

W.Va. Chamber: Block health care reform to help coal

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The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce is calling on the state’s congressional delegation — particularly Sens. Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockfeller — to refuse to advance health-care reform legislation unless or until the Obama administration stops what the Chamber calls a “war on coal/energy.”

In a press statement issued this morning, Chamber President Steve Roberts (above) says:

Since the start of the Obama Administration and the new Congress there has been a growing campaign against the mining and use of coal. This war against coal and domestic energy threatens our state and its citizens with increased poverty, lost tax revenues and economic disruption. This needs to end before irreparable damage sets in.

The Chamber’s press release continues:

Roberts noted that job losses and poverty are major factors that contribute to poor health. “No other factor affects a person’s — and a family’s health — than being impoverished,” he added. “West Virginia has made good strides over the past five years to improve the health and well-being of its citizens, and a strong, productive state energy industry is central to this.”

“It seems counterintuitive to ask taxpayers in this country to pour money and take on a trillion dollars in future debt to expand health care coverage and benefits while at the same time the Obama administration and Congress are working to destroy jobs, eliminate good health care benefits and hurt people’s well-being.”

Moreover, this new campaign against coal and domestic energy production will only put added pressure on the nation’s growing energy needs and costs, and, thereby cause additional jobs to be lost in manufacturing, services, technology and a host of other industries. “Coal, which is an affordable, domestic energy resource used to generate 50 percent of the nation’s electricity, should not be cast aside based on the radical viewpoints of the some fringe elements. Nor should new attacks be allowed to start against the domestic natural gas industry.” Roberts called on the state’s congressional delegation to withhold voting to advance national health care reform until the Obama Administration, particularly the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, backs down on its campaign against coal.

“Votes to advance national health care reform are at razor-thin margins in both houses of Congress, and West Virginia’s congressional delegation needs to use this time – and their clout and seniority — to get this anti-coal situation stopped.”

State Senate Majority Leader Truman Chafin first came up with this idea, but Sen. Rockefeller has one has already rejected the notion of blocking health-care unless EPA stops reviewing mountaintop removal permits.