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The West Virginia Coal Forum kicked off it 2017 tour with June events in Morgantown and Charleston and made it clear to the state that coal mining is here to stay.

“On the Road: 2017 and Beyond” provided updates on West Virginia’s coal industry performance, and featured presentations by Gov. Jim Justice, Senate President Mitch Carmichael, the dean of West Virginia University’s and mineral resources program, representatives from the state’s leading power companies, industry experts and leading coal researchers.

“These have been excellent events to kick off the Coal Forum’s 2017 meeting series,” said Chris Hamilton, co-chairman of the Coal Forum, which is an organization representing business and labor in the coal industry. “Our coal industry is ready to soar. We at the Coal Forum felt it was time to take a new message out on the road so the public can hear first-hand about all the incredible opportunities in store for West Virginia’s coal industry.”

CHARLESTON — Speakers at Thursday’s Coal Forum discussing a WVU study predicting a continued longterm decline in the state’s coal industry, the possibility of converting coal into transport fuels and updates on coal-fired power from power plants. 

The West Virginia Coal Forum presented 2017 and Beyond Thursday at the Culture Center with future meetings planned in Wheeling, Logan and Bluefield.

West Virginia coal mines are on track to produce nearly 50 percent more coal this year than last, but in the long term they need help from the state Legislature, Bill Raney says.

Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said mines in the Illinois Basin have taken market share from West Virginia in the power generation sector. Neither Illinois nor Indiana have coal severance taxes, he said.

MORGANTOWN — The West Virginia Coal Forum hosted a gathering of coal industry leaders and professionals in Morgantown Tuesday afternoon to discuss the state of the industry and the most recent developments in regulations and research.

The conference was attended by more than 75 professionals representing various aspects of the industry including coal operating personnel, academic researchers, coal-related business owners and mine safety officials.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Coal Forum is applauding the new attitude towards the coal industry coming from Washington.

President Donald J. Trump signed a congressional resolution of disapproval on Feb. 16, overturning the U.S. Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation’s Stream Protection Rule (SPR). This rule, which was released just before the new year, would have made as much as 70 percent of Americas coal reserves impossible to mine. The rule was touted as one to protect streams, but the true impact on waterways would have been negligible while the rule curtailed underground coal mining was curtailed to a great degree.

It is our time to lead the way and to partner with our president and federal government to take the reins of our domestic energy assets and the policies that govern them.

As coal markets begin to blossom, we must be prepared to move quickly and offer the finest quality coal, produced by the best miners in the world, at the lowest price possible. A more competitive tax structure and a continued modernization of mining rules are just two macro-level policies we should pursue.

As a state, we must aggressively pursue homegrown coal consumption. We only consume roughly 30 percent of all the coal we mine in West Virginia. By increasing this total, we will provide security for our in-state coal operations, their output and a greater chance of reaping the benefits here at home.

The Legislature acted during the 2016 session to secure the percentage of West Virginia coal that is consumed within our borders by providing an incentive for utilities to upgrade in-state coal plants to continue consuming “local” coal in an environmentally clean fashion.