U.S. Coal and West Virginia

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West Virginia powers America.

  • Coal supplies half the electricity consumed by Americans.1
  • West Virginia is the second largest coal-producing state in the country, producing 158 million tons of coal in 2008; 26 West Virginia counties produce coal.
  • West Virginia has 4 percent of all U.S. coal reserves; coal can be found in 53 of West Virginia’s 55 counties.
  • West Virginia produces about 15 percent of all coal in the U.S.

West Virginia powers West Virginia.

  • About 98 percent of West Virginia’s electricity is generated from coal.2

West Virginia mining helps fuel the U.S. economy.

  • In 2007, coal mining in West Virginia generated nearly $15 billion in output.3
  • Surface mines account for 42 percent of coal production each year in West Virginia. 
  • West Virginia leads the nation in coal exports, shipping more than 50 million tons to 23 countries.
  • West Virginia Coal accounts for about 50 percent of U.S. coal exports.

West Virginia families depend on coal mining for good jobs.

  • Coal mining provides jobs for the long-term.
    • Coal mining in West Virginia supports over 88,000 jobs,4 paying hundreds of millions of dollars in annual wages.
    • In Boone County alone, about 4.600 workers are employed in coal mining.5
  • Coal mining jobs fuel other jobs.
    • For every coal mining job, an additional 3.5 jobs are created elsewhere in the economy.6

Coal mining jobs are well paid.

  • The average wage for a coal worker in West Virginia is about $68,000, roughly double the average wage for jobs most other industries in the state.7

Economically healthy coal mining equals a healthy community.

  • Coal mining creates an economic cycle of good jobs and opportunity that benefits families and strengthens communities.
  • Personal income and payroll taxes from West Virginia mining jobs amounted to $1.3 billion in tax revenue in 2007 alone8

West Virginia invests in protecting the environment.

  • West Virginia coal invests hundreds of millions of dollars in coal mine land restoration, or reclamation, projects.

Surface mining is a sophisticated mining technique that is the safest way – and at times the only way – to mine coal near the surface of the earth.  It improves productivity and protects the environment.

  • Surface mining operations provide enough energy to power more than 25 million American homes.9 In West Virginia, surface mining techniques yield more than 40 percent of the state’s coal.10
  • Before mining even begins, companies must submit – and the government must approve – a comprehensive land restoration and reclamation plan.  Some areas are reforested, others commercially developed to improve the quality of life for residents. 
    For example:
    • There is a new wetlands nature preserve in Boone County; a shopping mall in Bridgeport offers many employment opportunities for the community; a new golf course and nature trail are recreation and tourist destinations.

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* The National Mining Association compiles and analyzes data from a variety of official sources, including the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Energy Energy Information Administration (EIA), and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), among other U.S. and international agencies.

1 National Mining Association, Fast Facts about Coal.
2 Energy Information Administration, March 2008, Cost per kWh & Percent of Coal Generation.
3 The Economic Contributions U.S. Mining in 2007
4 The Economic Contributions U.S. Mining in 2007
5 West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety & Training
6 National Mining Association. Fast Facts about Coal.
7 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
8 The Economic Contributions U.S. Mining in 2007.
9 National Mining Association. Mountaintop Mining Fact Book (p.2)
10 U.S. Department of Energy / Energy Information Administration