Coal production accounts for around $10 billion in Kentucky’s economy, producing 42,078 jobs (directly and indirectly combined) and nearly $470 million in state tax revenue, according to a study by the staff of the Legislative Research Commission.
But it’s not going to last if something doesn’t change and, needless to say, Kentucky lawmakers and coal interests aren’t happy.
Jonathan Roenker and Jean Ann Myatt of the LRC reviewed their study for the Program Review and Investigations Committee on Tuesday. They were followed by Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters and representatives of the industry, all of whom decried the assault they see on coal from market forces and especially from federal regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency.
The last is the primary villain in the eyes of some lawmakers, especially those from eastern Kentucky, but industry analysts have blamed much of the downturn in the coal industry on market forces, though they cite stricter environmental enforcement as a factor as well.
Even Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association, listed regulators as only the fourth-most important factor in the uncertainty facing the coal industry. Bissett said the competition from natural gas, which currently is cheaper and cleaner for electrical generating utilities than coal, the warm winter and eastern Kentucky’s low-sulfur coal as contributors to the downturn in the market.
For the full story, read Wednesday's print or e-Edition of the Glasgow Daily Times.