Thursday, September 29, 2011

The End of Coal. The End of West Virginia?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy in an article posted on The Charleston Gazette's website on September 27th, 2011, coal production in Appalachia will be half of what it was in 2008 by 2015.  Yes there is still coal in them thar hills, but it is getting harder to mine.  They have mined most of the thick seams in the state, and are left with the harder to reach and thinner seams.

What does this mean to West Virginia?  Well the last figures I saw said there were 15,000 miners in the state.  So about 7,500 of them will be out of work.  While this is bad, the worst is yet to come.  The state will be losing a considerable amount of coal severance tax.  They will need to plan now for the shortfall.

The smart thing to do is to plan to transition away from coal.  Coal has been good to West Virginia for about 100 years.  But the news that production will be cut in half should be a wake-up call to the people and businesses in the state.  We need to diversify our industries.  With the vast experience in energy and chemical production, we need to leverage that knowledge to move forward.  Renewable energy technology would seem like the best, most likely fit for the state moving forward.

And, it would be best, if the companies providing this technology were home-grown West Virginia businesses.  It would help to break the cycle here in the state of outside companies making money off of West Virginia resources and taking the money out of state.  With home-grown businesses, more of the money stays in West Virginia and benefits our state.

Click here to read the article in The Charleston Gazette.

No comments: