- Saturday | 08/21/2010
For more than 100 years, the West Virginia coal industry has provided the economic foundation of the state’s economy. The industry generates more than 20,000
direct mining jobs and more than 70,000 indirect jobs. In addition, it generates more than $6 billion each year in total economic impact for the state.
Beyond that direct impact, West Virgnia’s coal industry provides the coal to area electrical generation plants that serve to provide the state and region with some of the
lowest electric costs in the nation.
West Virginia currently ranks second among the states in coal production — only Wyoming produces more coal each year. Our state remains, however, the leading coal
exporting state in the nation, providing coal to more than 30 nations around the world.
In addition, the state has some of the largest coal reserves in North America or the world. We have been mining now for more than 100 years and have only mined
only a portion of the coal in our state. In fact, we have more than 200 years of coal remaining at current usage rates.
In 2008, we produced more than 165 million tons of coal and the markets provided some of the highest prices in
In late 2008, that situation changed. The national and international economies began to slide toward recession. Prices for coal and other energy sources plummeted and stockpiles began to grow as the worldwide recession took hold. Between the fall of 2008 and the summer of 2009, coal prices fell nearly 50 percent and demand fell.
At the same time, our industry was under attack from radicals who sought an end to mining. They couched their attack as an attempt to end the practice of mountaintop mining, however the truth is they were and are attempting to end the use of coal as a fuel base.
The election of 2008 brought to power a new administration in Washington, DC. This group included a number of those who shared the goals of the radical anticoal
extremists. Almost as soon as the new administration took office it immediately began to attack the coal industry, changing rules and procedures that had been in place for years and stalling the issuance of hundreds of mining permits, threatening the very future of our people and our state. This remains the situation today.
Our professional coal miners face daily attacks on the issues of mountaintop mining, on cap-and-trade legislation and the non-consensus “science” of global warming.
The assault has drawn people who apparently do not care about our hard-working coal miners or their families. So the bottom line is that our industry is faced with a
fight for survival.
In an effort to meet the threat, the industry has joined with the related industries, vendor organizations and other groups to fight these assaults on our nation’s energy
independence. It is a fight we cannot afford Friends of Coal to lose.
Bill Raney, President