|Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 9.4.17
Monday, September 4, 2017 â€“
I wish to express my sincere condolences to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. My thoughts and prayers are with all of the communities that found themselves in the path of destruction, and I stand with all of my fellow Americans in hoping for your safety and a swift and full recovery. I am proud to say that first responders from Southwest Virginia have traveled to Texas to aid in relief efforts.
Part of my role as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee is to monitor the widespread impacts of Hurricane Harvey. The committee has engaged with and is receiving continuous updates from various state and federal agencies regarding the aftermath of Harvey.
Unfortunately, at times like this, scam artists often find ways to take advantage of the generosity of others and while there are many organizations doing admirable work, I urge you to be diligent when donating to relief effort organizations you may not recognize.
Investment in the Ninth
I recently had the privilege of attending the opening ceremony of the Komatsu Mining Corp. facility in Abingdon. In April of this year, Komatsu America Corp. acquired Joy Global Inc., an international mining and construction equipment manufacturing firm that has been a longtime employer in the Ninth District. Komatsu, headquartered in Japan, is a multinational company with operations on several continents and a history of supplying and manufacturing in the United States since 1970.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to visit one of Japanâ€™s newer coal-fired power plants. This newer facility burns coal at higher temperatures than traditional coal-fired power plants. By burning coal at a higher temperature, the Japanese have been able to achieve higher efficiency AND lower levels of air pollution. This is one model which can be used to burn coal more cleanly while maintaining coalâ€™s ability to produce affordable electricity.
What does this acquisition mean for coal industry jobs in Southwest Virginia? Komatsuâ€™s move to take over Joy facilities is a sign of unwavering confidence in coal and the people it employs with an investment in the future of the coal industry and our economy.
Coal industry workers in Southwest Virginia have distinctive and valuable skills, and it is apparent with this acquisition that Komatsu recognizes the expertise found in our region. By acquiring Joy Global, Komatsu has made it clear that the company intends to continue expanding its footprint in the mining industry, particularly coal. Worldwide coal production is continuing to be strong; one only has to look at Australia, India, China and various African nations.
Komatsu Mining Corp. has four facilities throughout our district alone; Bluefield, Abingdon, Duffield, and Norton each serve as home to Komatsu and hundreds of the companyâ€™s employees. While significant layoffs took place at the Bluefield facility in the past year, a recent uptick in mining industry demand has allowed Komatsu to bring back 65 employees at this location and new hires are expected.
This trend shows encouraging signs of continuing. In Buchanan and Tazewell counties, the Berwind mine expansion project is taking off and promises to put miners, mining suppliers, and other mine employees to work.
I believe this project, in bringing jobs to the Ninth District, will benefit not only the coal industry, but our communities as a whole.
And I am not alone in this view. Work towards opening the Berwind mine has received applause from Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who
Komatsu showing confidence in Southwest Virginia manufacturing capabilities and the Berwind mine will do great things for our local communities. Taking advantage of our natural resources and putting Ninth District residents to work will send an influx of money into our economy.
Not only are there exciting things happening for coal, but there is also considerable hope that we may be able to have closed-loop hydro pumping facilities in the coalfields. Earlier this year, I introduced H.R. 2880 in order to make federal permitting for such a facility easier.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at