In announcing new federal regulations on coal-fired power plants, President Obama asserts the United States will lead by example.
"America intends to take bold action to reduce carbon pollution," he said in a speech at Georgetown University on June 25. "We will continue to lead by the power of our example, because that is what America has always done."
West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney thinks the current coal market reflects a far different reality. Raney says, "We're exporting more steam coal now than we ever have as a country. And every other ton that leaves the shores of America comes from West Virginia."
Mark Schweitzer directs research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, and his team looks at statistics like that one for economic forecasting. Statistics compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest that between 2011 and 2012, the Wheeling area saw growth about triple the national rate in the natural industries and construction sector.
He explains further what has happened in terms of employment in our region. "What we're seeing is a gradual pickup in employment nationally. Locally, we've seen the unemployment rate come down -- but that hasn't been terribly tied to a lot of employment growth in the Wheeling area."
Which leaves people who think like Raney wonder what direction federal energy policy has taken.
"The rest of the world wants our coal," Raney says. "And this administration's trying to diminish the use of it. It makes no sense when you're trying to put the economy back together."