June 19, 2017 Read More →

On the Blogs: Doubts in West Virginia About Coal Resurgence


West Virginian historian Chuck Keeney, who has written extensively on the state’s coal industry and its miners, said he has not seen a noticeable change in the mood of the state’s residents since Trump became president. “A lot of West Virginians understood that they were rolling the dice with Trump,” explained Keeney, a professor of history at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College in Logan County, West Virginia.

Most West Virginians realize “there is not going to be a gigantic return of coal,” he told ThinkProgress.

In a research report update, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, an energy and environment research organization, said that “there is nothing to indicate that jobs recently promised in the U.S. coal industry will be jobs delivered.”

“The U.S. coal industry will continue to decline, and it will continue to shed jobs,” the organization said. “This trend will continue to put communities that are reliant on coal-related economic activity in the position of having to manage a difficult transition.”

According to research from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the region lost a total of 33,500 coal mining jobs between 2011 and 2016. More than 67 percent of these jobs — about 22,500 jobs — occurred in coalfield counties in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.

ARC, a federal-state partnership focused on economic development in the region, supports an average of 500 jobs — representing $15.7 million in annual earnings — in West Virginia.

On Wednesday, ARC announced almost $16 million in investments in 18 projects to promote economic growth in coal-impacted communities in West Virginia and other Appalachian states. The investments are expected to create or retain more than 1,700 jobs, the commission said.

But in his FY18 budget, Trump proposed elimination of the commission.

West Virginians are realistic about coal’s demise, even if politicians aren’t

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