Press Archive


CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Coal Association was invited to Thursday’s meeting of the Kanawha County Commission to discuss the impact of the recent layoff announcements that could potentially impact as many as 1400 coal miners – many of them from Kanawha and surrounding counties.

WVCA Senior Vice President Chris Hamilton and Vice President Jason Bostic met with the Commission, providing up-to-date information regarding the layoffs. Hamilton spoke about the issue at the regular Commission Meeting Thursday evening in Charleston.

Using 2008 as the baseline year in comparison to 2013/2014, Kanawha County has seen a 25 percent decrease in direct coal jobs – from  1,861 in 2008 to just 1,400 today, along with a loss of approximately 3,000 indirect jobs that are dependent on the industry.  Production has also declined 25 percent during that time. And the economy has lost approximately $85 million.

Statewide, direct coal mining employment has fallen from 20,927 to just 16,500 (counting the additional 1,400 announced layoffs) – a decline of 21 percent from 2008. Production has fallen from 165 million tons to just 117 million tons with surface mining declining by more than 50 percent. The overall impact has been a loss to the economy in wages alone is estimated at almost $750 million along with approximately $80 million in coal severance taxes.

These losses are the result of a number of factors, including an uncertain national economy and competition from low-priced natural gas, but much of the loss of production is due to the policies pursued by the Obama Administration and implemented by the EPA.  These policies have essentially forced the closure of hundreds of coal-fired power plants and essentially made it increasingly difficult to mine, transport and use coal.

Kanawha County commissioners agreed that something must be done to counter the loss of production and jobs, going on record calling for the state to do whatever it can to protect the industry and provide incentives for mining and using West Virginia coal within the state.