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As the coal industry continues to rebound, its overall contribution to West Virginia’s economy is nothing short of phenomenal, supporting upwards of 17 percent of the state’s total GDP.

According to John Deskins, director of the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research, the coal industry and coal-fired power generates a total of $13 billion in overall economic activity in West Virginia. For context, total economic output for the state as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) was around $77 billion in 2017.

According to Deskins’ newest report, “The Economic Impact of Coal in West Virginia Economy,” which was commissioned by the West Virginia Coal Forum, the coal industry currently employs more than 13,000 miners who on average make $85,000 yearly (twice the average in-state salary) and conservatively support another 25,000 jobs throughout our state. Add in the 2,800 coal-fired power plant and utility workers, and you have a $2.5 billion payroll. 

West Virginia’s 100-plus mining operations purchase local supplies, use local contractors and employ a highly complex, technologically advanced loading, handling and transportation system that safely transports base fuel for electric generation and steel production throughout the world.

Total payout for these skilled tasks equates another $6.5 billion annually.

And as it relates to taxes, West Virginia coal contributes a whopping $652 million in overall tax contributions to state and county governments.

Accounting for about 50 percent of all state exports, West Virginia coal is shipped to at least 47 foreign destinations. West Virginia is the leading export state and accounts for upwards of 40 percent of all U.S. coal exports to markets in China, India, Brazil and the European nations.

Most are aware that West Virginia has two major types of coal: steam/thermal coal which is consumed to produce electricity, and metallurgical coal which is relied upon to produce steel. West Virginia has vast reserves of high-grade “met” coal.

While solar, natural gas, nuclear and wind can compete with steam coal to produce electricity, the steel industry requires met coal for the coking process that is part of steel production. There are no substitutes, and West Virginia has more high quality met coal than anyone else, which is why we are currently shipping it around the world.

Even better, volumes of steam coal exports from West Virginia also are on the rise as international demand for coal increases because of its low cost and reliability for electric power generation.

Simply stated, more steel and power is needed to support and sustain the growth we are seeing across the globe as more developing nations grow their economies and infrastructure.

West Virginia coal always has maintained a healthy share in the international marketplace. And the infrastructure is in place to accommodate rising world demand.

World reliance on West Virginia coal should help stabilize this industry for years to come as we continue to make progress with domestic policy and increased production. This underscores coal’s amazing comeback and importance to our state in the past, present and future.

Hearing coal trains, seeing miners going to work and watching full coal barges travel our rivers not only signals coal’s recovery, but also rings as a stark reminder that the beast behind West Virginia’s economic health is ever so present. West Virginia must continue to keep coal in the center of our plans for economic diversification and growth.

 Chris Hamilton is co-chair of the West Virginia Coal Forum, an organization representing business and labor in the coal industry. 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. A new study on the economic impact of West Virginia’s coal industry shows that even when facing the worst regulatory pressures in history, mining still generated nearly $13 billion in economic activity for the Mountain State.

“Coal and coal-fired electric power always has been a major driver behind West Virginia’s economy, and this study proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that not only is coal the bedrock of our economy, it’s a key component of our future,” said Coal Forum Co-chairman Chris Hamilton. “The 2017 figures show that our industry is rebounding from the years of oppression during the previous administration.”

The study, “Economic Impact of Coal in West Virginia Economy,” was commissioned by the West Virginia Coal Forum and conducted by the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER). It shows that coal mining spends more than $1.1 billion on wages alone, and coal operators spent roughly $6.5 billion in 2017, far more than the entire general revenue of state government.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Coal Forum is applauding plans from President Donald Trump and Gov. Jim Justice to save West Virginia coal jobs by taking immediate steps to ensure the long-term operational viability of American coal-fired power plants.

“Without question, this is the best news in my 40-year career in the coal industry,” said Coal Forum Co-chairman Chris Hamilton. “It’s bigger than big. Never before in the history of mining has our state and federal political leadership been able to achieve the benefits to coal that are embodied in the Trump-Justice plan.”

The West Virginia Coal Forum is an organization representing business and labor in the coal industry.

CHANGE NOTICE:  Because of scheduling conflicts, travel arrangements and requirements for speakers to register before the hearing, the RALLY and PRESS CONFERENCE will be held at noon on the North side (Opposite the River) of the Capitol.  Therefore, instead of planning to be at the Capitol at 8:15 a.m., as previously announced, plan to enter the Capitol for the hearing and we will gather at NOON for the press conference and lunch.  

We look forward to seeing you all at the hearing and the press conference.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Coal Forum applauds U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan.

“We have been eagerly awaiting this news ever since President Trump promised us a few months ago that he would continue to change Washington’s attitudes toward the coal industry,” said Coal Forum Co-chairman Chris Hamilton.

The West Virginia Coal Forum is an organization representing business and labor in the coal industry.

In Pruitt’s official filing to repeal the Clean Power Plan, he states EPA lacks the statutory authority for such an over-reaching regulation that is fraught with economic pitfalls and practical impossibilities. In an analysis by the National Review, the editorial board correctly summarizes the Clean Power Plan: “The combination of severe limitations on carbon dioxide emissions and incentives for adopting alternative-energy schemes was intended to achieve exactly what Barack Obama had previously promised to do: ruin the coal industry.”

Hamilton agreed with that analysis.

“We have been saying for years that the Clean Power Plan was nothing more than an orchestrated campaign to destroy coal mining in the United States, particularly in Appalachia,” Hamilton said. “Repealing the CPP is the right thing to do. EPA’s actions today are further proof that we now have an administration that understands the massive role coal plays in the American economy and electric grid and that the agency also finally understands the limits on the power granted to it by Congress.”

For additional information, contact the West Virginia Coal Forum at (304) 957-2306. 

"Anything that will help bring coal miners back to work is welcome news to the West Virginia Coal Forum. The governor's bold plan gives the federal government the chance to help coal miners return to work and alsobring much-needed stability to the eastern electric power grid. We areeager to work with Gov. Justice on this plan as more details become available."