US Coal Exports
Exports Economic Contributions Report
Aug 16 2013

Coal Exports Boost West Virginia County’s Prosperity (Weirton Daily Times)

Region’s coal riches renewed

By JENNIFER COMPSTON-STROUGH – For The Weirton Daily Times , Weirton Daily Times

TRIADELPHIA – With one of the most productive coal mines in the state and an ongoing oil and natural gas boom, state Senate President Jeff Kessler said Marshall County is poised to become the richest county in West Virginia within the next decade.

His remarks came Thursday as part of a West Virginia coal forum at West Liberty University’s Highlands Center. The session’s theme was “The Importance of Coal Exports.”

Kessler pointed out that Marshall County – home to Consol Energy’s large McElroy and Shoemaker mines – recently became the top coal-producing county in the Mountain State. High levels of production mean good-paying jobs with benefits for residents, he noted. Kessler said 30,000 West Virginians actually work within the industry, while another 63,000 are employed in related fields.

Coal production also leads to additional tax dollars for the state and region. Kessler, D-Glen Dale, cited coal severance and business taxes as vital sources of revenue for state and local budgets.

Coal also accounts for 99 percent of all electricity generated in the state.

“At the end of the day, coal still keeps the lights on,” he said.

But Kessler also acknowledged the coal industry has challenges to overcome, particularly in the form of federal environmental regulations. He pointed out Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and other state officials recently met with new EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

“I’m told that it was a very informative and a very, hopefully, effective opening dialogue … to make sure the folks in D.C. understand that the decisions they’re making over there have a real, genuine effect of the lives of the people that I represent,” he added, stressing the need for balance between reasonable environmental safeguards and allowing a realistic timeframe for companies to adapt to new technologies that make environmental improvements possible.

About 15-20 people took part in various portions of the event.

They also heard from WLU President Robin Capehart, who said coal made his father’s job at a Marshall County American Electric Power plant possible, providing a means for him to support their family. Capehart also worked at the Kammer plant – a job that helped pay for his college education.

Leading the session was Chris Hamilton, vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association.

Although he said there is a “lot of gloom and doom looming over the industry,” he sees hope in the fact that the state’s coal exports to nations around the world have nearly doubled in the last five years, with West Virginia providing about half of the United States’ coal exports.

Bill Raney, also representing the WVCA, said low natural gas prices have damaged the coal industry and noted coal exports actually declined about 7 percent in the first six months of 2013.

He added regulatory uncertainty has stymied investment in coal and suggested the United States should be using its indigenous coal to help rebuild the economy.

Raney also pointed to the various ways land can be used for development following mining – even the surface and mountaintop removal mining that raise objections from many people. He said former mine sites are now home to schools, Scout camps, retail developments like The Highlands, golf courses, airports and much more.

Other presenters included Jeff Herholdt of the West Virginia Department of Energy; United Coal President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Zervos, a Moundsville native; and Diego Gattesco, director of the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Wheeling.

A spokesman for Rep. David McKinley, R-Wheeling, read a letter during the gathering on behalf of the congressman, who was unable to attend.

See article here.

  • “The fact that we’re no longer in the age of energy scarcity – that we’re in the age of energy abundance – positions the United States in a totally different place. This gives access to affordable, reliable energy in the United States, and gives the U.S. a major competitive advantage.”
    – Dave Banks, Special Assistant to President Donald Trump for International Energy, June 2017
  • “It is in the national interest to promote clean and safe development of our Nation's vast energy resources, while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation. Moreover, the prudent development of these natural resources is essential to ensuring the Nation's geopolitical security.”
    – Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, March 28, 2017
  • “Historically, U.S. companies seeking to expand their revenues focused first on increasing their number and share of U.S customers. For years, this focus served as a winning strategy for many of the most successful U.S. companies. Today, global economic trends make clear that successful companies are those that reach and sell to consumers outside U.S. borders and around the globe.”
    — 2011 National Export Strategy, U.S. Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee
  • “Federal regulatory agencies should not require climate change studies in the course of their permitting processes for proposed facilities. Coal will be consumed around the world regardless of U.S. trade policy. The only question is whether the coal is produced here in North America, where environmental standards are high, or elsewhere.”
    — U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, January 7, 2014
  • “At present 19% of the world’s population, 1.3 billion people, lack access to electricity and on New Policy Scenario projections there will still be 1 billion people without such access in 2030. To meet the UN Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2015, 395 million more people need access to electricity. There is a strong correlation between electrification and improvement in the United Nations’ Human Development Index.”
    — International Energy Agency, Coal Industry Advisory Board
  • “Access to electricity is strongly correlated with every measurable indicator of human development”
    — Berkeley Science Review, 2008

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