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Coal industry officials have hard message for W.Va.

By Jim Davis

Exponent-Telegram

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginians need to get serious about coal, or learn to live without some of the services to which they have become accustomed.

That was the message speakers stressed Thursday at a forum on coal mining’s significance to the state and the economic and regulatory challenges the industry continues to face.

“You all are going to have to make up a half a billion dollars if you expect to keep the same services in the state,” Bill Raney told more than 50 business and civic leaders gathered at the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown.

Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, was referring to the $490 million the state stands to lose in coal severance taxes if coal’s fortunes continue downward.

Those severance tax revenues go to a fund for infrastructure improvements across West Virginia and to all of the state’s 55 counties, whether they produce coal or not, Raney added.

The West Virginia Coal Forum, an organization committed to improving the state’s coal industry, sponsored the event.

Speakers spent a lot of time criticizing the permitting regulations and climate change standards imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since President Obama took office.

The latest standards would cap carbon dioxide emissions to 1,100 pounds per megawatt hour at new coal-fired power plants and 1,500 pounds per megawatt hour at existing facilities, they said.

The average coal-fired plant emits about 1,800 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, they said.

As a result of the new standards, 58 plants that burn coal will close by 2018, Raney said.

“They set a standard that is unachievable, because technology does not exist to capture” carbon dioxide, Raney said.

“This has created such uncertainty in the power-generating business you will not find anyone who can get the financing … or has the willingness to build coal-fired plants,” Raney added…

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