Tuesday, May 07, 2013

King Coal being dethroned, costing Appalachian jobs

The U.S. has reduced its dependence on coal to almost the lowest level in 63 years, as it becomes more energy self-sufficient through the production of more natural gas and oil. And as stricter air-pollution limits are enforced, the coal industry in continues to decline, most notably in Central Appalachia, market analyst John Kemp writes for Reuters. Since 2002, coal production is down 32 percent in Eastern Kentucky, while West Virginia is down 10 percent and Pennsylvania 9 percent, he notes. (Bloomberg photo by Daniel Acker)

While overall production from U.S. coal mines has fallen 7 percent, some areas are performing well or holding steady, reports Kemp: "Wyoming's production alone has risen by more than 25 million tons over the last decade to over 400 million."(Read more)

Mario Parker, writing for Bloomberg, offers several individual examples of how the declining coal industry has hurt people, towns, and states in Appalachia, as the U.S. reduces its dependence on coal to almost its lowest level in 63 years. "As many as 5,400 direct U.S. jobs could be lost by 2015 as regulations prompt utilities to shut plants to comply with tighter environmental laws," he writes. "Another 30,000 more may disappear in the coalfields and ripple through the businesses that support them." Still, 3.5 million new jobs could be created by 2035 as a result of horiuzontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing of previously inaccessible gas reserves. (Read more)

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