Small Businesses Hit by New EPA Mandates on the Coal Industry

Date: October 14, 2013

Joni Paladino owns MIF Incorporated in Brockway, Pa.,a trucking company that serves the coal industry.  She is an NFIB Pa. Leadership Council Member

My dad started our small family trucking business, MIF Incorporated, almost 30 years ago here in Brockway, and now I run the company along with my brother.  We work almost exclusively moving coal from the coal mine to the processing plant where it is washed, crushed and mixed.  This family business has been our livelihood for two generations.  We also employ eight truck drivers, and a maintenance mechanic, all of whom are dependent on the Pennsylvania coal industry to provide for their families and put food on the table.

The regulations just released by the EPA are not at all reasonable and may very well put us out of business and put our employees out of a job.  President Obama’s “War on Coal” is striking at our basic existence, and we are just one of many small businesses dependent on the coal industry in Pennsylvania.  Perhaps a more precise label would be, President Obama’s “war on Pennsylvania families, businesses, and jobs.”  According to a 2012 study by the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, 14,500 Pennsylvania jobs depend on coal, which contributes $7.5 billion to our local state economy. 

 Maybe people believe it’s easy for a small business like mine to simply adjust to new regulatory requirements, or quit serving the coal industry and start transporting water to well sites, but it’s not that easy.  Small businesses don’t have the luxury of whole departments dedicated to nothing but regulatory and paperwork compliance.  Small businesses that are forced to divert valuable resources, most especially time, to compliance quickly feel the pinch.  Additionally, it’s actually very expensive to make the switch to transporting water to well sites.  My eight trucks which carry coal might be retrofitted to tankers, but the cost would be almost the same as buying all new trucks.   At a cost of approaching 150 thousand dollars or more, the investment of over 1 million dollars is not something we would want to tackle in this economic climate.

Unfortunately, under the Obama administration, expensive regulatory changes from Washington have become commonplace and it is always unclear to me what problem they are trying to solve.  I read that there are over three thousand new federal regulations in the pipeline, and many of them directly impact small businesses.  That seems like a recipe for disaster for small businesses like mine, which are paying our taxes, keeping our workers safe, and working to comply with all the rules thrown at us.

It’s not surprising to me that small businesses are increasingly afraid to hire new workers with so many new rules and regulations being created.  In fact, the National Federation of Independent Business finds that regulations are one of the top three concerns for small business owners preventing job creation.  Another recent survey by Capital One showed that 67 percent of small businesses do not have plans to hire in the next six months due to poor business conditions.
Pennsylvania families and small business owners can’t afford for the White House to keep issuing costly new rules especially those that wage an unnecessary war on coal powered energy.   New EPA rules will drive up energy and consumer costs for Pennsylvanians and make the future very uncertain for businesses like mine. President Obama has pledged to evaluate the impact of current and proposed regulations on small businesses.  It’s important that the government follow through or more Pennsylvanians will lose jobs. 

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