U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, called on union members to fight back against what he called the war on coal at a rally in Beechview this afternoon.
About 150 workers gathered outside the union hall of Boilermakers Local 154 on Banksville Road to call attention to the pending closure of two coal-fired power plants in the region. Mr. Murphy led the protest of what he maintains to be President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency's attack on the coal industry.
"In the war on coal, we are not going to surrender, and you are the soldiers who are going to fight back," Mr. Murphy said.
FirstEnergy Corp. said Tuesday that it would shut down a 1,710-megawatt power station in Masontown, Greene County, and a 370-megawatt plant in Courtney, Washington County, within three months. Among a number of reasons to close the plants, including depressed market demand for electricity, the company cited the cost of complying with the EPA's mercury and air toxic standards.
"Those who want to stop the energy source -- I don't know where they think they're going to get the energy from to power America," Mr. Murphy said at the rally.
Mr. Murphy and Raymond Ventrone, business manager of Local 154 who introduced the congressman, said that instead of moving away from the coal industry, the nation should work to develop clean coal technology that already exists.
Mr. Ventrone said union members will continue their efforts to defeat the war on coal and plan to take their march to the Capitol.
"In the next three months, we will be in Washington, D.C." Mr. Ventrone said.
Gavan Gideon: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-4910.