There is a lot of coal left in West Virginia, but it’s uncertain how much will ever be mined. In the past three years 11,000 miners have lost their jobs, and coal tax revenue has dropped 40 percent, as the White House pushed for alternate energy. Some believe coal is still a viable industry.
“That being said, there will be coal needed. It will be at lower levels than it was before. Because there is a down town. A lot of the utility plants have switched from coal to natural gas,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, (D) West Virginia.
Because of that, Manchin supports natural gas pipelines across the state, but says there should also be increased demand for coal.
“The Department of Energy’s forecast is that coal’s going to be a major part of the energy mix of this country, up through 2040. So you have two-and-a-half decades,” Sen. Manchin said.
But the uncertainty and high unemployment among miners, is why some confronted former President Bill Clinton, while he campaigned for his wife Hillary in Logan.
“We don’t want your hand outs, we want to work,” shouted one protester.
The West Virginia Sierra Club, believes the decline of coal will continue, and leaders need to level with the public.
“The politicians in this state, right now, are feeding on that. They are feeding on the fear of what’s going to come next, fear that there’s not going to be anything to come next and they’re lying to people,” said Bill Price, from the Sierra Club of West Virginia.
The Sierra Club wants more focus on reclaiming abandoned mining lands, saying that will create new jobs.
“Have workers that already have the mining skills, that already have the skills around machinery that are needed,” said Price.
“The loss of the coal severance tax is one of the biggest reasons why West Virginia is now facing a $353 million dollar budget deficit,” said Mark Curtis, 7News Political Reporter.