“While the mining industry is under attack by a President committed to moving our country away from fossil fuels, world events and energy markets have combined to dictate an increased demand for coal and West Virginia is starting to see the benefits,” said WV Coal Association President Chris Hamilton in addressing the Joint Legislative Committee on Energy at an Oct. 12th meeting in Charleston.
“Coal supplies have tightened, inventories are low, and the price of natural gas has skyrocketed,” said Hamilton. “This has given coal an advantage over competing fuels.” Hamilton noted that coal production in West Virginia is 20 percent ahead of 2020 output and the industry expects to finish the year strong.
Hamilton also impressed upon policy makers that coal needs to be a key part of West Virginia’s future going forward. “Between our world renowned, rich met reserves, the delivery of high-quality thermal coal ensuring the uninterrupted delivery of household and industrial power, and our vision for advanced carbon products, we will continue to drive West Virginia’s economy for decades to come.”
The WV Public Service Commission ruled on Oct. 12th to approve AEP’s request to comply with federally mandated environmental requirements at the John Amos, Mountaineer and Mitchell coal-fired power plants, which keeps them operational through at least 2040. This positive result retains thousands of jobs at the power plants, maintains significant sources of state and local tax revenue, keeps the local communities around these facilities vibrant, and sustains the coal mines, miners and hundreds of associated vendors that supply these plants with fuel.
Hamilton explained to legislators that the state has a golden opportunity to capitalize on this positive momentum, but we must take steps now to do so. He encouraged policy leaders to view our existing state energy operations and coal assets as our most valuable commodity and do whatever we can to keep them viable going forward.
Hamilton noted that West Virginia’s electric utilities and the mining industry have made incredible progress over the past twenty years removing harmful particulates from coal-fired emissions and that the industry has the best technical minds in the world working to develop carbon capture and sequestration technologies to continually improve.
Hamilton called upon our government and West Virginia University to expend greater budget dollars towards beneficial carbon uses and carbon control measures citing, “Do not allow yourself to get caught up in the current chant of the environmental extremists, President Biden and select energy users who do not see coal as part of West Virginia’s future. As Senator Manchin says, ‘coal is too valuable not to use; we need to innovate, not eliminate’.”
“There is a natural transition period out ahead of us but that is 30, 40 or 50 years away. We should not be trading one energy job for another today or anytime in the immediate future. We should be able to supplement our current energy assets as demand and peak load increases.”
For a copy of Hamilton’s remarks to the Joint Legislative Committee, please contact the Association at (304) 342-4153.