Don’t leave West Virginia behind with coal

A study conducted by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at West Virginia University, but commissioned by the West Virginia Coal Association, suggests the coal industry and coal-fired power plants are still a significant player in the state’s economy.

It showed mining and coal-fired power generation have a $14 billion impact on the Mountain State.

The study “came out even more overwhelming and convincing than even what we thought on the total economic impact,” said Chris Hamilton, president of the West Virginia Coal Association.

Certainly the research could point toward various conclusions, depending on the interpreter. In the case of the coal association, the results seemed clear cut.

“A lot of forces are trying to transition everybody away from fossil energy, but we really should be a last holdout because of the economic benefits and jobs fossil energy, particularly coal, does for the Mountain State,” Hamilton told another media outlet.

Perhaps. At the very least the data points to the desperate need to put the brakes on efforts to cut off the industry before we have done right by the thousands of families in West Virginia whose livelihood depends on coal. As we move toward the transition even Hamilton acknowledges will come, our state’s lawmakers must be courting employers that will enrich a diversified economy in West Virginia; and working toward education and retraining opportunities that will not leave coal industry workers stranded.

Those workers have and continue to keep the lights on for us and tens of millions of others in this country. State and federal lawmakers owe it to those who depend on the coal industry to make sure we will not one day be flipping a switch and leaving them in the dark.


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