Mark Joseph Stern's Forum article ("Big Coal Keeps Whining," Nov. 16) was riddled with what the author himself calls "obfuscating facts," particularly with reference to CONSOL Energy's recent layoff at its Miller Creek facility.
Mr. Stern asserts that coal executives have "made up" President Obama's "fairly mild" regulations that "aren't cripplingly costly to coal companies." Mr. Stern also makes the false assumption that all coal companies are operated the same.
CONSOL Energy, a publicly held company that is bound by SEC-mandated disclosure regulations, did not make up the fact that it was forced to issue a WARN Notice, which is required by the Department of Labor, in October that will eliminate the jobs of 145 coal miners.
This action was not taken because of market conditions or the natural gas boom but because the federal government has abandoned the traditional permitting processes and as a result, created regulatory barriers for economic growth. CONSOL Energy began the permit process five years ago, in 2007. We have exhausted every feasible option toward getting this permit to fit into our permit and project timeline. Sadly the Environmental Protection Agency is putting ideology ahead of practicality and we have missed that window.
At the end of December, CONSOL Energy's Miller Creek Mine in Mingo County, W.Va., will have no permitted reserves to support the 145 employees at this location and despite our best efforts, the company may not be able to reassign those workers. These employees are not statistics, they are real people with mortgages, car payments and children to feed and put through school.
Mr. Stern's piece demonstrates that accuracy is too often pushed aside for simplicity; reality is too often sacrificed for exaggeration. Moving forward on permits like ours, and countless others, could mean thousands of jobs and do wonders for our economy.
Miller Creek Coal Complex