MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — One of the longtime fixtures of the West Virginia coal industry has announced he’ll retire at year’s end. Bill Raney has been the President and CEO of the West Virginia Coal Association since 1992. His ties to coal mining go all the way back to his childhood.
“It’s just one of those times and you look back on it and it’s gone by pretty quickly. There’s been a lot of ups and downs, but hopefully it’s all been handled in a positive way,” Raney said in an appearance on MetroNews Talkline Tuesday.
Raney’s father operated mines in Wyoming County and he got his start working in the industry for Ben Greene as a surface mine inspector. Over the years he worked in various capacities before coming to the Coal Association in 1992 where he’s become the face of the organization for many years.
He’ll be replaced by Chris Hamilton who Raney said is ready for the job.
“With Chris and Jason (Bostic) taking over, they’ll do a fabulous job. They’ve been with me the whole time and they’ve been doing the heavy lifting of course. They know all about this stuff,” he said.
Raney admitted he had seen the best of times and the worst of times for the industry and although things were not promising now, he still believed there was a future for coal.
“It’s going to be difficult because of all the transitions that will go on. We’re still feeling the effects of the Obama Administration closing down lots of power plants which affected the steam market domestically. But the rest of the world knows West Virginia coal and they know the miners and managers here are going to produce what they want, which is the best coal in the world to make steel,” he explained.
Bill Raney, Outgoing President of the West Virginia Coal Association, speaks with @HoppyKercheval about his announcement to retire, and he reflects on his time with https://t.co/rn6maOBVPd. Coal Association.. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/loYLG2DaOp
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) December 1, 2020
Raney doubted production topping 160 Million tons annually would ever happen again, but believed if the industry could produce 90 to 120 Million tons annually it would help stabilize the state budget.
He said getting to go to bat for those who work in the industry was his greatest joy of the job.
“I’ve been very blessed to represent such an industry. You can’t love an industry, but you can surely love all the people in it. They are so resilient, so tough, and so optimistic.”