For health and jobs

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U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy has embarked on a crusade to prevent public health safeguards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because he is concerned about the economic challenges facing southwestern Pennsylvania coal communities. But is Rep. Murphy acting in the best interest of coal communities?

Coal miners are losing their jobs due to increased mechanization in mining and more competitively priced natural gas. Since 1923, there has been an 88 percent drop in U.S. coal mining jobs, while coal production has increased 92 percent due to increased use of machines and productivity improvements.

Abundant Marcellus Shale gas is creating a stable supply of low-cost fuel that is also cleaner than coal, causing free markets to shift investments.

Science-based rules to limit health-harming pollution won't be free, but EPA's program to reduce toxic mercury emissions will deliver $3 to $9 in health benefits for every dollar spent on pollution controls. The price of doing nothing is also rising: The cost of climate and extreme weather disasters has risen at a rate of 5 percent per year since 1980.

Promoting early vesting for near-retirement-age coal workers and investing in retraining and job placement for younger coal workers in growth sectors of the economy are steps in the right direction.

I believe coal communities want secure jobs and good health for their families, friends and fellow Pennsylvanians. Rep. Murphy, instead of promoting confusion that prevents private sector investment in innovative solutions, perhaps it's time to focus on the people?

CHRISTINA E. SIMEONE
Director
PennFuture Energy Center
Philadelphia


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