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February 07, 2014

Former Coal Miner to Obama: Set Strong Carbon Pollution Limits on Coal Plants

Coal miner Nick Mullins

The following is testimony from Nick Mullins, a former coal miner from Virginia, given Thursday before the Environmental Protection Agency public hearing in Washington, DC, on carbon pollution standards. Nick is pictured above speaking to a press conference outside EPA before giving his testimony inside.

My name is Nick Mullins and I am a 4th generation former underground coal miner from Southwestern Virginia.

Like many of the men in my family, I worked in the coal mines to support my family and to give my children a better future, but it came at the cost of more than just our battered bodies and polluted lungs. It also came at the expense of clean water and clean air for future generations. After decades of mining and mountaintop removal practices, I had to move my family away from our ancestral Appalachian home, fleeing from the detrimental health effects associated with decades of chemicals released into our environment from coal extraction and the “cleaning” process.

The proud heritage of the coal miner has been soiled by the greed of an industry that knows no bounds in its exploitation of decent, hardworking people.  While billions of dollars in coal profits have left our communities, thousands of people continue to face a seemingly endless cycle of poverty and drug abuse. Of the billions of tons of coal extracted from our mountains to power this great nation, most of it has gone up in waste for the sake of comfort, convenience, and enormous profit.

After decades of careless energy use by our nation, Appalachians are being left with poisoned water, eviscerated mountains, and little economic hope. But the problems in Appalachia are only some of the many caused by the overuse of a cheaply extracted-resource. Now we are facing the inevitability of human-created climate change, of which we can no longer be apathetic.

By limiting carbon emissions from power plants, we are taking steps towards a transformative future. Though many will find themselves fearing, and even resisting change, we need to realize that smart policies designed to protect public health and spur innovation are absolutely necessary. For example, by creating a more energy efficient, carbon-conscious economy, we are also creating new jobs for thousands of skilled workers who can install equipment, upgrade infrastructure, and build a better, cleaner future for our children. In doing so, we are accomplishing the same goals so many coal miners work hard towards every day.

I speak out on behalf of fellow fathers, Appalachians, skilled workers, and the 4,000,000 other Americans who support strong standards to limit pollution from our nation's power plants. We are standing together, in pursuit of a healthier, safer, cleaner future for our children.

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