KARTHAUS — The Quehanna Industrial Development Corporation held its biannual coal and rare earth elements meeting on Friday at the Quehanna Motor Lodge in Karthaus.
The meeting is an opportunity for coal miners, business owners, QIDC members, state and federal politicians to meet for discussion on current and future endeavors within the coal industry. Several government officials gave attendees a glimpse into legislation being worked on in an attempt to aid the coal industry. The meeting also is a platform for industry owners and employees to air problems and concerns with those with the power to make a difference.
Individuals from across the state of Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and even the state of Texas were present at the QIDC meeting.
QIDC President Ray Savel opened the meeting with remarks and thanked the guests for attending.
The first individual to speak was U.S. Congressman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson. Thompson is a member of the House of Representatives Coal Caucus. He gave a legislative update on how the caucus is trying revitalize the coal industry.
“I’m sure there are other places that meet about coal,” Thompson said. “But I’m proud of being here in the heart of my congressional district.”
Among a plethora of talking points, Thompson noted the Caucus was able to stop the Stream Protection Rule earlier this year. He called the SPR the “single greatest threat to the job and family livelihoods of coal miners.”
Other new developments in legislation include the beginning of the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, the overturning of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, the lifting of the moratorium on the Federal Coal Leasing Program, and more.
Ryan Russell of the United States Department of Commerce spoke on the benefits of their commercial service to coal miners. He said he works for the “export promotion arm” of the government and helps U.S. companies find places to sell their product internationally. He added selling products abroad, in turn, creates more jobs on U.S. soil.
“We are here to help U.S. companies hire more people,” Russell remarked. “It’s one of those things where when the door is open, there are a lot of opportunities.”
State Sen. Scott Wagner, a Republican candidate for PA Governor in 2018, spoke on the challenges the state faces when it comes to the coal industry. One of the main challenges he addressed was how to develop our workforce.
“The skilled labor crisis is something we have to solve in PA,” Wagner added.
Representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy were also at the meeting. DOE official Doug Matheney said reinvigorating the coal industry was the reason he was at the meeting and in his current job.
“We at the DOE are here to help,” Matheney said.
One problem local coal miners addressed was that they continue to lose incentives to keep going in the industry because of government regulation.
Wagner said it is something he will strive to address if elected governor.