(Video above: Coal miner Walter Parker delivers emotional testimony during an EPA public hearing in Atlanta, Georgia July 30, 2014)
Yellowhammer has been in Atlanta, Georgia this week covering the public hearings on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed “clean energy” plan that would require power plants to drastically reduce their emissions or shut down.
The EPA is hosting four such public hearings around the country this week, and over 1,600 people are scheduled to testify. But of the hundreds of testimonies Yellowhammer witnessed over the last two days, one stood head and shoulders above the rest.
Walter Parker is a life-long coal miner who came to the hearings along with some of his fellow miners looking for a chance to have his voice heard by the seemingly faceless EPA bureaucracy that is threatening to extinguish the only life he’s ever known.
When he got his chance to speak, he didn’t yell, but his carefully chosen words and genuine emotion spoke louder than any environmental activist with a bull horn did this week.
A lightly edited transcript of his remarks can be read below, but if you want to truly feel the impact the EPA’s proposed regulations are having on real people around this country, you need to take two minutes and watch the video above.
In the end, most people here will not wonder or care what happens to my wife and kids if I no longer have a job.
No one is thinking about the burden my family and my co-workers will face if we no longer have a job, a steady paycheck, or if there are no more contributions to the UMWA health and retirement funds.
No one will care until the money runs out and the government… which is killing our jobs, must pay the price of unemployment benefits, welfare and public assistance, which is running rampant in our country today.
I am proud that I have been able to take care of my family because of the work I do. I am proud to be a miner. I have never asked for handouts from the people around me or from the government. I want to pay my own way. I want to work. I feel pride in my work. I want to be able to continue my profession and produce coal to power this nation. And I’m sorry that I get emotional, but I can’t help it.
In the end, I don’t see the Agency’s proposed policy as a real solution. We will lose what we have worked for all of our lives and our communities will struggle in poverty. How can the EPA call this a success story?
Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims