CHARLESTON,W.Va.– It’s estimated U.S. mines produced 110 to 112 Million tons of coal in 2013. The figure is substantially less than the tonnage extracted from the ground in 2008 and 2009. West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney said the key roadblock to progress lies in Washington D. C.

“The uncertainty is being diminished and reduced, but then you always have to await the Federal Government to give the final authority on a permit,” said Raney. “They just continue to string it out and we’ve got to get that solved.”

Raney said often the permits are withheld, reviewed, or at times revoked without cause with little to no oversight or control from Congress.  He said it’s a problem lawmakers need to address.

The picture doesn’t get much more optimistic for coal in 2014.  Increased standards on the construction of new coal fired power plants were a huge blow in 2013, the other shoe is expected to drop this year. 

“With this administration we don’t look for any relief out of them,” said Raney.  “The new source performance standards will be coming out in June for existing coal fired plants. The steam market domestically is very much depressed. “

Raney acknowledged the present low price for natural gas is hurting coal, but added it isn’t a long term obstacle.   He thinks the discouragement of construction of coal fired plants is the biggest threat not only to the coal industry, but to national energy security.  He said the danger could be magnified if the economy truly begins to rebound.

“Ravenswood (Century Aluminum) needs to come back on line and demand in those industrial facilities needs to increase,” said Raney. “However if that happens and you suddenly have a hard winter and not necessarily this winter, but maybe next winter, people in the utility industry tell me that could be a perilous time for the national grid and more specifically the regional grid which generates electricity for the northeast.” 

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  • Jessica Mullins

    You know this is how some of us make a living. Our families "daddy, brother, uncles, cousins and our ole men" make a living.Its sad to see that no one from Washington wants to show a little sympathy to our needs in these poor states. The thing bout it is is they are wealthy and making the big bucks still and like I said not giving a care in the world bout us in the mining states..Very Sad!!!!

  • Hillbilly

    Well said Billy Matics , I am with you and I am ready !!!

  • fair

    If it comes a hard time, just cut power to those who voted Obama into office. They don't want the coal power so don't give it to `email.

  • Billy Matics

    We have to get rid of those in Washington whoever they are, and we know, who are against Coal. Those who fight for Coal and our Constitution, is who will get the votes. It's time for politicians to become Americans and start doing what's right for the country. The Americans who are paying the tab for everything are fed up with politicians and ready to go with a clean slate and get rid of everyone in Washington. The worst part is it seems A Revolution, is the only way to get it done.

    • Bruce

      We need to get rid of all of them in Washington and start over.

  • madaline petttry

    West virginia is suffering state because restrictions put on coal mining and then it drickles down to the railroad and then it hurts the state in general. we have cleaner air today than back when i grew up as a girl when coal was burned in ever household. this is political as well as global warming. God put the coal here for the men to mine and why we have politicans messing with our creation by the almighty does not make sense.

  • Rosebud miner

    I would hate to do it to my fellow Americans but us as the coal community need to shut it down for a few days to a week to really stick it to this administration.... they are truly blind to what America was built on....God guns faith and hard work....

  • cutty77

    Great Point Mr Boone,
    But WV is ran by Buffoons. This President has been screwing WV since day one,all our leaders wanted to do is fight him,instead of doing something different. But thats why we are just about last in everything. Stupid Does Stupid Is.

  • Owen Boone

    West Virginia needs to diversify it's economy. Agriculture is a winner because the developing world has many mouths to feed.

  • Hillbilly

    If Obummer has his way , all the mines will be sealed up !!

  • rick

    Coal production is down because demand is down. Established coal producers with permits are shutting down due to lower demand. China is experiencing some of the worst air quality in it's history and is looking to cut coal usage. You can try to make this a political issue but it is just business.

    • Aaron

      Yes, demand is down but coal is certainly by no means down. The EIA estimates that coal will continue to produce nearly 40% of our electrical needs for the next half century at least.

      Instead of recognizing that fact though and looking into R and D along with new power plants that will reduce emissions, we're wasting far too much money on unproven and unreliable energy sources, China's looking to clean up their environment notwithstanding.

      Why do you reckon that is?

    • editerguy

      Get out of here, Rick! You're talking about facts and we don't want to hear it. We want everybody to use coal, and stop switching to newer, cleaner, safer, more economical sources of energy. Also, black-and-white tv was better than color, and some day people will all go back to it.

      • Aaron

        What are these "cleaner, safer, more economical sources of energy" that can produce 40% of our energy needs.

        Given that you're up on the facts, I'm sure you'll have no problem discussing in detail what these sources are.

  • David Kennedy

    The post Obama recovery will see a trend toward using coal to its maximum potential.
    It has many uses other than being burned to produce electricity.
    We live in a plastic world and all that plastic comes from coal.
    The coal will be mined to make cars, bottles and I-phones... the world will turn and mankind will eventually save the whales.

  • knows

    Console selling out all their big mines in wv after 150 yrs as primarily a coal company says a hell of alot

  • Jonus Grumby

    And what say you, Senators Rockefeller & Manchin?

    • Wowbagger

      Depends where they are and who they are talking to.

  • zero tolerance

    The biggest enemy of coal is Natural Gas. Cleaner, easier to extract, safer v to extract, cleaner to extract, cheaper, the list goes on. The day of "big coal" is long gone.

    • Billy Matics

      The latest report shows only 3% difference in clean between coal and gas but a 300% difference in total BTU and as soon as coal is gone gas prices will sky rocket. It's like everything else, why are we buying oil from other countries when we have a 300 year supply here in the United States. The rich get richer. I worked in Coal Mines 32 years and coal production and use is cleaner now than ever before and no matter what EPA puts on new requirements, Coal Operators always meet the specs and EPA never knows when to quit. People who judge coal usually don't know anything at all about it.

    • Debra Haddix

      Gas cleaner???maybe burning but not extracting ,at least with coal we know what the impacts are and can be used cleaner,fracking tho another story jury still out on the impacts...or maybe I should say EPA still Turing a blind eye

    • Aaron

      What happens to gas when the vultures at the environmental terrorist organizations turn their focus on that industry once coal is finished?

    • Jonus Grumby

      Four words: Export coal to China.

      • coal supporter

        They are already doing this. Mist of the coal mined at the Republic Energy Mine is MET coal and goes to China. That's why they are still mining and haven't slowed a bit.

      • ron2

        Australia/Indonesia are already doing it for so cheap. Only Few thousand miles away from China/India vs more than 8000 miles from US.

  • wvu999

    I bet the Big Coal Execs are still making millions like always.

    • Aaron

      How much do you think the executives at Solyndra made?

    • The bookman

      What a view into your thought process do you provide through your comments! If we could all be so transparent, secrets would be an impossibility!