Less Coal for People of West Virginia

Less Coal for People of West Virginia

Posted in the Beckley Forum

Wendy

Cookeville, TN

#1 Feb 4, 2018
Study: Coal job losses to keep hurting Appalachia, beyond

Jim Gaines, USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee Published 7:00 a.m. ET

As the US tries to pave the way in climate protection, the country's coal production has been on the decline. In addition to the environmental impact coal mining has left, communities are now feeling the economic effects of this recent shift.

coal-in-the-hands-of-a-miner_l arge.jpg

Coal isn’t back — though it may hold steady near today’s level — but the long-term decline of mining in Appalachia will have a ripple effect on related businesses, health, education and regional population, according to a new study.

While coal has boom-and-bust cycles, its long-term trend has been downward, said Matt Murray, University of Tennessee economics professor, associate director of the Boyd Center for Business & Economic Research and director of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.

“We may see some further declines, but I think the coal industry is close to bottoming out,” he said.“So the worst is behind us. I think the real impacts are in those small number of communities that still have some coal activities going on.”

The five-part study,“An Economic Analysis of the Appalachian Coal Industry Ecosystem,” notes that coal production in Appalachia fell nearly 45 percent between 2005 and 2015, more than double the rate of the national decline during the same period.

Researchers at the University of Tennessee and West Virginia University did the study, funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission, a state and federal economic development agency covering parts of 13 states. UT’s team included researchers from the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research in the Haslam College of Business, the Center for Transportation Research in the Tickle College of Engineering and the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. Murray coordinated UT’s three research groups on the study, and worked himself on coal’s impact on jobs and education.

► More: Coal mining deaths surge in 2017 after hitting record low

► More: Federal regulators deal huge blow to the coal industry

Coal mining jobs in the United States increased by 771 from 2016 to 2017, a rise of 1.4 percent, but most coal states actually saw coal mining jobs decline, according to a post by Jeremy Richardson, senior energy analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists, which was not involved in the UT/WVU study.

The areas hit hardest by coal’s decline are West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. Tennessee never had a big presence in the coal industry, Murray said.

Knox and most surrounding counties were listed as “moderately” coal-dependent in both 2005 and 2015. None of the 25 most coal-dependent counties in the multi-state Appalachian region covered by the study were in East Tennessee. The greatest reliance on coal in Tennessee is in a string of counties northwest of Knox County.

“We’ve only got in the state 178 (coal mining) jobs, but they are in relatively close proximity to Knoxville,” Murray said.
Wendy

Cookeville, TN

#2 Feb 4, 2018
TVA coal use down but steady
The TVA headquarters in downtown Knoxville is picturedBuy Photo
The TVA headquarters in downtown Knoxville is pictured in January 2015.(Photo: Michael Patrick / News Sentinel)

The biggest coal user in Knoxville, and probably in Tennessee, is the Tennessee Valley Authority. The agency still has seven coal-fired plants, of which five are in Tennessee, including the Bull Run Fossil Plant in Oak Ridge and Kingston Fossil Plant.

“Coal makes up 25 percent of our generation currently,” TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said. Nationwide, 35 percent of electricity comes from coal, according to the study.

► More: Study says TVA service costs burden residential customers over industry

All of TVA’s coal is mined within the United States, but only 3 percent from the Appalachian Basin. More than half comes from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, Brooks said.

“Coal remains an important part of our diverse generation portfolio,” he said. TVA doesn’t plan or need to build any new plants, of any kind, in the near future, Brooks said.

TVA’s board has approved building a gas-fired plant at the Allen site, according to the agency’s annual report. At the Paradise Fossil Plant in Drakesboro, Kentucky, TVA shut down two of the three units in April 2017. The board has also approved a gas-fired plant for Paradise, while one coal-burning unit there remains operational. Once those changes are complete, TVA will have cut its coal-fired power output by 46 percent from 2010.

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