October 31, 2023

Manchin challenges EPA's new metallurgical coal rules, warns it will harm W.Va.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is raising concern over a proposed federal Environmental Protection Agency rule that would impact the mining of metallurgical coal.

Manchin, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, is asking EPA Administrator Michael Regan to reconsider the rule that amends the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for coke ovens. Coke is a critical fuel used in the steelmaking process that is created by heating metallurgical coal.

Metallurgical coal, which is produced in West Virginia, is in return a key component in the production of steel.

The West Virginia Democrat said the new EPA rule will hurt the Mountain State.

“EPA’s proposals introduce new and unwarranted regulatory demands on coke production, which would harm employment prospects in West Virginia, the viability of coke production for the sole two U.S.-based steel blast furnace operators, and the local steel industry crucial for electric vehicles, pipelines, infrastructure growth, solar panels, geothermal plants and other vital sectors,” Manchin wrote in the letter to Regan.

Manchin said the Biden administration’s plan seeks to decrease metallurgical coal at a time when the need for domestic steel production is growing. Furthermore, he said the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law calls for more infrastructure projects that require steel production.

“While crafting new regulations for the steel and coke industries, it is crucial for the EPA to carefully balance economic, employment, and environmental factors,” Manchin added in the letter to Regan. “Unfortunately, the proposed rules appear to disregard this principle. If put into practice, these regulations could decrease coke consumption in the United States precisely when domestic steel production is more vital than ever, leading to reduced demand for metallurgical coal in West Virginia.”

If less metallurgical coal is mined, it would pose a threat to steel production, according to Manchin.

“West Virginia is the leading supplier of metallurgical coal used in coke production in the United States,” Manchin added in the letter to Regan. “In 2021, our state was home to an extensive workforce of over 11,503 miners, encompassing both underground and surface jobs. Despite a gradual decrease in the number of mining jobs over the years due to declining demand for thermal coal, the demand for metallurgical coal, along with the employment opportunities it generates, remains robust. Respected coke suppliers like SunCoke Energy are integral to the supply chains of the final two steel blast furnace operators in the nation, U.S. Steel and Cleveland Cliffs, who rely on metallurgical coal-derived coke from West Virginia to produce resilient, lightweight steel for the American market.”

By:  Charles Owens
Source: Bluefield Daily Telegraph