An editorial from The Register-Herald
BECKLEY, W.Va. — Coal miners, their families and ancillary business aren’t the only ones who will be devastated if Alpha Natural Resources follows through and does, in fact, lay off more than 1,100 surface miners in mid-October.
In his monthly numbers report Monday, Secretary of Revenue Bob Kiss presented glum news pretty much all the way around.
State officials have been planning for lower revenue, but Kiss reported that the numbers are lagging behind even those expectations.
“We’re not seeing the turnaround we were hoping to see sooner rather than later,” Kiss said. “We continue to see the downward trend.
In so saying, it seems that Alpha’s news of impending layoffs could not have come at a worse time.
Soft markets, stricter regulations for industry and a declining need for steel all combine to hit the coal industry with a one-two-three punch.
Many say the ever-growing market for gas and oil drilling in the North and North Central parts of the state can shore up the state, but according to Kiss, that hasn’t happened yet. That revenue has not yet been higher that the loss taken from coal.
As revenues continue to decline, the trickle-down makes its way deeper and deeper into county and municipal economies. Coal severance revenue is already down and will slide even further if the Alpha layoffs come to pass.
And, again, while hopes are being pinned on natural gas, that boom is not being seen in our southern counties…