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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.

What’s more, the total economic impact of coal mining and coal-fired electric power generation was about $12.9 billion in 2017, meaning the coal industry supported 17 percent of the state’s total economic output last year.

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

John Deskins, BBER director, said the total economic impact of coal mining does not end at the mine – it goes far beyond the portal and upstream through the business economy.

“Despite production declines in recent years, coal remains a very important part of West Virginia’s economy, as illustrated in our research,” Deskins said. “Coal continues to support a sizeable share of the state’s economic output and thousands of high-paying jobs.” 

Coal Forum Co-chairman Fred Tucker said he is seeing more miners going back to work every day, proof that the industry will continue to support West Virginia’s communities.

“We have miners back to work, mining coal and providing for their families and communities again,” Tucker said. “West Virginia’s coal industry has always prided itself on contributing locally and to the state as a whole. This new study makes it clear just how much of a good neighbor we are to West Virginia.”

Highlights from the report include:

  • Coal mining and coal-fired electric power generated approximately $12.9 billion in total economic activity in the state of West Virginia in 2017. For context, total economic output for the state (GDP) was around $77 billion in 2017.
  • Coal mining and coal-fired electric power generation supported nearly 39,000 jobs in West Virginia in 2017.
  • Coal mining and coal-fired electric power generation provided around $2.5 billion in employee compensation in 2017. Coal mining posts the highest average annual wages among all other industries in West Virginia.
  • Coal mining and coal-fired electric power generated nearly $652 million in select state and local tax revenue for West Virginia and its local governments. 
  • West Virginia coal exports have consistently make up a large share of U.S. coal exports – nearly one-third of the nation’s total economic export value – and coal exports are expected to grow for the next several decades.

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

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