June 6, 2014

Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance Formed
VCA-ECC-VMA to Merge Into One Unified Coal Advocacy Group


Lebanon, VA - Efforts are nearing completion to combine the energy of three coal-focused organizations into one as the Virginia Coal Association, the Eastern Coal Council and the Virginia Mining Association take the steps to merge the three organizations into the new Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance.

“This is something several of the coal operators have been discussing for quite some time and finding a better way to streamline the efforts of the three groups, which sometimes in the past have overlapped, has been a primary focus of this merger,” said Robert Litton, current chairman of the Virginia Coal Association. “We feel that through this merger we can better address the broad array of issues impacting our industry through the more concentrated and unified efforts of one organization.”

Litton noted that at present there is somewhat of a fragmented, not well-coordinated approach by industry to address issues. The formation of the new Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance will remove that fragmentation and see one coordinated program emerge, he added.

The new Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance, headquartered in the governmental center on Highlands Drive in Lebanon, Va., will combine the efforts which the three organizations have focused on in the past into one central organization focused in three areas of primary interest, including governmental affairs, regulatory affairs and education and outreach.

The Richmond, Va., firm of Troutman Sanders Strategies was chosen in December to head the governmental affairs section for VCEA. Brooks Smith and Clark Lewis will serve as the primary VCEA representatives and Senior State Manager Mike Woods will also be part of the legislative and regulatory advocacy team. Lewis will serve as VCEA executive director of government affairs.

Barbara Altizer, who has served as executive director of the Eastern Coal Council for 34 years, will be the new VCEA executive director of education and outreach; and John Belcher, who has served as executive director of the Virginia Mining Association, will serve as the VCEA executive director of regulatory affairs.

“Barbara and John bring years of experience in advocating for the coal industry to the table and we are pleased that they have expressed a willingness and a desire to join with the VCA in accomplishing this merger,” Litton said. “We anticipate having it completed early in the first quarter of 2014.”

“From our perspective, the merger will serve to make us a stronger, more unified group in our education and outreach efforts,” Altizer said. “We will continue to grow our teacher education program in the summer and look forward to hosting our annual legislative reception in Richmond in January, our spring conference in May and next fall, the Coal, Rail Power tour for freshmen legislators. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to work together to expand the audience to hear and better understand the

vital importance of coal in not only our local and regional economies, but also our state and national economies.”

Belcher agreed, noting that programs formerly overseen by VMA will continue to be an important focus of the new VCEA, from the Governor’s Cup Mine Rescue contest to the annual awards banquet recognizing the best of the best in Virginia’s coal industry and to its efforts on the regulatory front continuing its focus on cooperation among government, industry and the public to assure a reasonable balance between America’s need for energy, economic stability and responsible environmental practices in the pursuit of mining coal.

“With the regulatory assault on coal continuing at what sometimes seems like a fever pitch in this nation, it is more important now than ever that we keep abreast of and respond to proposed regulatory changes which impact how we do business as an industry and how we grow and expand that business in what all would agree are tough economic times,” Belcher said.

“By merging the three coal organizations into one, it gives us a stronger voice in finding the best ways to address the opportunities, the problems and the needs of the coal industry in Virginia,” Belcher added.

Whitney Seals, who formerly worked with VMA, will join VCEA as its office manager and Tonda Still, who provided bookkeeping and editorial services on a contract basis for VMA, will continue to work with VCEA to provide those services.

A combined quarterly magazine will be issued which incorporates the content, industry news and features formerly found in the ECC’s Coal Leader with the VMA’s Journal into a new expanded magazine format under the VCEA banner.

A new dues structure will be put into place which in many cases will result in savings to companies which formerly paid dues to belong to all three organizations.

“We are excited to begin this new chapter in the coal industry through the formation of the Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance,” Litton said. “Having a unified voice on the issues and a concentrated, concerted approach in dealing with the issues which confront our industry is something that in the end will benefit not only the industry as a whole, but the thousands of men and women whose jobs and livelihoods depend on it every day. We look forward to meeting the challenges and to exploring the opportunities ahead as we complete the merger and begin to operate day to day as the Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance.”

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