There are signs of life from the coal industry, as some mining companies are starting to hire again... https://t.co/ucsd9ixyjq
I am writing to ask for your favorable support of the Coal Jobs & Safety Act of 2015 (SB 357).
The safety and environmental provisions of SB 357 will modernize our laws to make sure they more accurately reflect the conditions and practices in today's West Virginia coal mines, which are the most advanced and progressive in the world. SB 357 gracefully brings our laws into the 21st Century and makes them much more consistent and compliant with the relevant federal laws and regulations. It further toughens our existing and successful drug testing program, puts the most progressive and protective diesel equipment program in the hands of your agency experts and maintains all the traditional restrictions on the movement of equipment where energized trolley wire is present. While SB 357 will hopefully stop some of the frustrating flow of negative lawsuits, it also gives hope to the more than 4000 laid off miners and confidence to the best coal miners in the world that their jobs will be preserved and they will be able to continue to work.
I am asking you to please sign SB 357, the Coal Jobs and Safety Act of 2015, and help us keep our people working. My family and I are depending on you.
WHAT DOES THIS LEGISLATION DO?
This legislation strengthens the state’s enforcement of the industry’s drug testing program to promote drug‐free coal mines;
- Updates West Virginia’s mine laws on equipment movement and operation to match federal regulations and well‐ established safety standards;
- Places oversight of underground equipment in the hands of state mine safety regulators;
- Syncs state reclamation rules with federal laws to bring consistency to regulatory oversight;
- Adjusts a water quality standard to reflect the latest science and better protect the environment; and,
- Conforms permit enforcement processes to federal law.
THESE CHANGES WILL:
- Modernize state mining laws to protect coal miners.
- Bring efficiency to state government oversight of the mining industry.
- Help West Virginia coal compete at home and abroad to protect coal mining jobs.
- 27 coal‐producing counties. All 55 counties receive severance tax revenues.
- #2 Coal‐producing state in America. WV coal is shipped to 26 states.
- #1 Underground coal‐producing state.
- #1 Coal‐export state. Half the coal shipped from the United States comes from West Virginia, going to 37 countries.
- WV burns 32 million tons of coal each year to produce 97% of the state’s power. Only half of this is West Virginia coal.
- 16 Coal‐fired power plants in West Virginia = 86% compliant.
- 56% of the electricity produced in West Virginia is exported.
- 33% Appalachian “demonstrated reserves” — The EIA estimates we have 31.7 billion tons.
The Value of West Virginia Coal (2013)
- Average Annual Coal Wage: $72,500.00
- Coal Severance Tax Paid (total): $407.4 million (Note: in 2008, coal severance revenues were $531 million)
- Estimated Production Value: $7.1 billion Share of West Virginia’s GDP: 13%
What’s Happened to West Virginia’s Coal Industry?
- The total number of mines reporting production has gone from 184 in 2012 to 121 in 2014.
- Total West Virginia coal production has fallen from more than 165.7 million tons in 2008 to less than 110 million tons in 2014.
- WV coal employment (direct) has gone from almost 54,000 in 2012 to just over 47,000 in 2014. The industry has lost nearly 7,000 jobs in two years!!