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Coal Report for March 15, 2017

Coal Report for March 15, 2017

The Kentucky House of Representatives passed House Bill 234, sponsored by Republican Rep. Jim Gooch of Providence. The bill eliminates required mining permits for all the surface area above underground mines. Rep. Gooch said (quote) “With the new Trump Administration in place, we are seeing real relief for coal country, and it is imperative that our state’s government follows suit. This measure will reprieve coal companies of unnecessary costs and help in our efforts to get our coal miners back to work.” (end quote) This bill goes beyond the federal requirements for mining permits and if passed will place Kentucky in a similar place as other coal mining states. If the Senate passes the bill, Gov. Matt Bevin does plan to sign it into law.

Knott County, Kentucky Judge Executive Zach Weinberg says he was told Kingdom Resources plans to hire 60 workers within the next two weeks, according to the Associated Press. Kingdom Resources bought the old Enterprise coal mining operation in the county. Kingdom Resources is a company based out of Texas.

The Kentucky House of Representatives received a bill yesterday that would place into an endowment the 50% of coal severance tax funds that are usually administered into Kentucky’s General Fund. Senate Bill 215 was approved unanimously by the Senate Budget Committee March 7th. The bill creates a public corporation titled the Kentucky Coal Fields Endowment Authority that would be authorized to collect $7.5 million a year from the General Fund to help diversify eastern and western Kentucky economies that have been reliant on the coal industry. The Lexington Herald Leader reports that the authority would use the endowment to finance projects in Kentucky’s coalfields including economic development, public infrastructure, public health and information technology. It would be overseen by a seven-member board appointed by the governor. Republican Senator Brandon Smith of Hazard and one of the bill’s sponsors told the Senate Committee (quote) “This bill was put together to try and bring some sort of stability to the coal regions of Kentucky. Honestly, if this had been put into play years ago, we would have a tremendous trust fund built up right now that would allow these counties to be able to offset the losses they’re seeing from out-migration and a loss of jobs.”(end quote)

Coal communities the world over are experiencing the decline in the demand for coal. Documentary filmmaker and professor at Appalachian State University, Tom Hansell produced a movie that has been screened throughout the eastern United States and Wales, England called After Coal that records the efforts in both South Wales and eastern Kentucky as communities grapple with the loss of a coal economy. China’s coal miners are the latest to join in the efforts to voice their concerns on how they will be employed in the future. NPR reports Longhua Harbin Coal Company, a subsidiary of China National Coal Group, the third-largest coal mining company in the world has told the mine’s 4,000 workers they’ll all be out of a job by year’s end. The mine will be shut, wiping out the town’s main source of revenue. Miner Wang Fuxiang says soon they’ll become the poorest residents of an already-poor region. (quote) “President Xi [Jinping] says nobody should be left behind on the road to China’s prosperity, but now we won’t even be able to feed ourselves. If they paid us our pensions and health insurance, we’d at least be able to survive.” (end quote)

The Coal Report is a weekly production of WMMT. It is assembled from newspapers and press services and reports coal-related material as these sources give it. It does not represent the opinion of WMMT on the matters discussed. Our aim is to reflect both local developments regarding coal and the big picture we’re a part of. For feedback, comments, or questions, email [email protected]

appalachian history,
coal industry,
economic transition,
energy & environment,

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