The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 3, 2013

Business owner unsettled about EPA, coal’s future

Jack Phillips says all of his business is from the international market

BECKLEY — Jack Phillips, owner of Phillips Machine Service, said he fears for the future of the coal mining industry.

Phillips attended the “Rally for American Energy Jobs” Oct. 29 in Washington, D.C., to support the coal industry and the jobs it creates.

“(The rally) definitely had a positive message, not just about coal, but energy and a sensible energy policy,” Phillips said.

He thanked all the coal miners, their families, and all who traveled to D.C. for showing their support, and he said the elected officials’ speeches were excellent.

Although support for the coal industry from West Virginians and state officials is strong, Phillips said the Environmental Protection Agency regulations could be devastating.

“The EPA has total and unchallenged authority and at the moment, unless the Supreme Court helps us out, I don’t see any hope for the coal mines.”

He said he has supported candidates and causes that will help the industry, but President Barack Obama’s re-election has been a major deterrent — “He said he would close the coal mines and he is currently doing that.”

Phillips Machine Services, located in Beckley, got its start in 1976 and has since grown and expanded all across the U.S. and even internationally in China and South Africa. The website describes the company as “one of the largest full service companies of its type in the industry,” and the company is involved in almost all phases of repairs, remanufacture, fabrication, development and sales of mining machinery. Phillips said his company is the second largest supplier of shuttle cars worldwide.

He said all his business comes from the international market — “We have nothing from Beckley, nothing from West Virginia.”

Sasol Coal Company in South Africa is Phillips’ largest client and Phillips said his company is even sending people to South Africa to work. “Our business is excellent in South Africa. They have massive coal-fire plants being built there.”

These coal-fired power plants help convert coal into diesel and jet fuel, Phillips said, and even though he is doing business internationally, he said his company is still down by about 50 percent.

He said he has sat in on meetings with the EPA in Washington, but with little success.

“They essentially said they didn’t believe in our industry. They took no questions, but if I had a chance to tell them, I’d say they really, really need to get their science correct and be reasonable.”

Phillips added, “Until the power goes out, we are not going to pay attention.”

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com

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