West Virginia Coal Education Week
The third week of April (April 17 – April 23, 2011) will commemorate Coal Education Week in the Mountain State, as officially declared by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.
Becky Neal from the Governor's office presented the proclamation to the CEDAR Board of Directors during a ceremony Monday, March 28, at 11: 00 a.m. in the West Wing governor’s reception room at the State Capitol.
The week will include a Regional Coal Fair held at the Harless Center in Gilbert, a picnic/tour on Tuesday night to recognize all the winning students with WVKM radio station live interviewing students, and Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College videoing winning students, and the presentation of student awards on Saturday. CEDAR educates students, teachers and parents about coal and its benefits through grant initiatives, coal educational fairs, and scholarships. The Tug Valley Mining Institute will host their monthly dinner meeting on Thursday night, April 21, at the Harless Center with guest speaker, Kurt Kost, President of Alpha Natural Resources. Pocahontas Land will have a coal tree exhibit on display and Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College’s Coal Academy will have an exhibit on display. For more information, contact Georgene Robertson, President of CEDAR of Southern West Virginia, 304/792-8433.
The CEDAR golf tournament will be Tuesday, May 24, at The Resort at Glade Springs for more information contact Bud Clapp, 304/324-2430.
L-R: Ron Lemon, SWVCTC VP Development; Cindy Crigger, SWVCTC VP Communications; Phil Montague, CEDAR BOD; Bud Clapp, CEDAR BOD; Debbie Mudd, CEDAR Coal Fair Mgr.; Georgene Robertson, CEDAR President; Becky Neal, WV Director of Internal Govermental Affairs; Steve Hopta, CEDAR Secretary-Treasurer; Gary Bennett, CEDAR BOD; Kay Goodwin, WV Dept. of Education & Arts; Bill Raney, WV Coal Assoc. President; Chris Hamilton, CEDAR BOD
01 Boone 30,975,289
02 Logan 20,641,448
03 Kanawha 12,973,693
04 Mingo 11,931,482
05 Marion 11,165,320
06 Monongalia 10,871,603
07 Raleigh 10,858,837
08 Marshall 10,774,733
09 Webster 5,592,945
10 McDowell 5,502,941
11 Wyoming 5,270,787
12 Wayne 5,089,591
13 Nicholas 4,396,038
14 Fayette 4,206,015
15 Clay 3,548,309
16 Tucker 2,534,721
01 Boone 13,086,610
02 Marion 10,817,042
03 Marshall 10,774,733
04 Monongalia 9,790,624
05 Logan 7,684,837
06 Kanawha 7,627,141
07 Raleigh 5,613,946
08 Mingo 5,285,591
09 Wayne 4,063,020
10 Wyoming 3,562,488
11 McDowell 3,019,110
12 Fayette 2,561,353
13 Tucker 2,534,721
14 Upshur 2,173,109
15 Barbour 1,628,683
01 Boone 19,791,159
02 Logan 11,284,746
03 Kanawha 5,952,616
04 Mingo 4,819,502
05 Webster 4,515,897
06 Raleigh 3,910,630
07 Clay 3,882,969
08 Nicholas 3,195,948
09 McDowell 2,372,624
10 Wyoming 2,031,311
11 Fayette 1,863,649
12 Wayne 1,163,368
13 Monongalia 747,800
14 Barbour 648,020
15 Brooke 403,853
Company Corporate Affiliation Tonnage
Consolidation Coal Co. CONSOL Energy 17,567,296
McElroy Coal Co. CONSOL Energy 9,636,828
Elk Run Coal Co., Inc. Massey 7,849,554
Independence Coal Co., Inc. Massey 7,791.583
Alex Energy Massey 5,329,198
As we begin a new decade, it is appropriate to take a look at where we have been, where we are going, what our opportunities are and what obstacles exist along our path. As an industry, we have a lot in which we can take pride.
Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our working coal miners. Every one of our members and their people do everything possible to make sure our people go home at the end of their shifts. We work every day to make sure that happens. Significant improvements in work practices and conditions are made every day and we will continue to do so. Our goal continues to be zero accidents, zero injuries and zero fatalities. West Virginia’s underground mines are all equipped with the most advanced safety equipment in the world – fire suppression systems, machinery that shuts down automatically when safety monitors are triggered, self-rescue air systems, safety refuges and advanced communications methods.
Our coal miners are our most precious resource. They work hard every day to meet the nation’s energy needs and to take care of their families. They are the best in the world and we are proud of the work they do each day. In the past 10 years, our 21,000 active coal miners have provided 1.5 billion tons of coal to fuel our nation’s energy demands and provide the building blocks of our nation’s industrial might and contribute to its security.
The hard work of West Virginia coal miners has given Americans a standard of living unparalleled in the modern world. The coal they mine to make our steel and electricity literally keeps our dreams alive and possible. However, our industry’s reach goes far beyond our active coal miners as another 45,000 vendors and support workers work together with the coal industry. From the mechanics and sales people, to the engineers, surveyors and support staff at hundreds of state companies, the reach of the industry is felt in a very direct way. And going further, thousands of additional jobs are spun off by the industry into their host communities – from the pizza shop to the convenience store, from the sales people at the local auto dealership to the teachers in our public schools, our 21,000 coal miners provide the bedrock on which these other jobs depend.
According to a recent joint study by West Virginia University and Marshall University, the state’s coal industry provides an estimated 63,000 jobs for West Virginians – ranging from actual coal mining jobs to sales jobs at coal vendor companies, utility companies, rail and transport companies. In fact, according to the study, West Virginia’s coal industry generated an estimated $23.5 billion in 2008. Our industry has stepped up to the plate to meet the needs of the future. Working together with local and state public officials to coordinate the needs of mining with those of our host communities, we are creating much-needed land for use as sites for industrial parks, shopping centers, schools, roadways, airports, parks, new homes, ball fields and playgrounds.
In so many ways, West Virginia coal miners are providing for our present and building a future for themselves and for the people of our state.
Our people have also worked hard to preserve and protect our past and our heritage. We have gone far beyond that which was required of us to restore former mine sites to their former beauty. We have planted millions of trees – working in conjunction with major universities to restore species on the brink of extinction to their former range. Our sites have provided habitat for wildlife and helped bring several species back to our region.
In West Virginia and across Appalachia, any type of major development requires the natural landscape be altered. The mountainous terrain provides little land naturally suited to development.
The natural landscape of West Virginia can be characterized usually as a narrow valley floor --between 100 and 1000 feet wide -- surrounded by steep mountainsides that are often a 50-degree slope or more.
What this means is that any development is naturally limited by the landscape.
Overcoming this limiting factor is an expensive undertaking. Moving the amount of earth necessary to build a road, a shopping center, a school or an industrial park requires an investment of hundreds of thousands, if not millions ,of dollars before construction of the facility or the road even begins.
At right is a partial list of facilities either located on former mine lands or in the process of construction. The sites run the gamut of development, including everything from golf courses to hospitals, from schools to industrial parks and from prisons to residential areas. The businesses and facilities located on these sites provide literally thousands of good, quality jobs. These are jobs that would likely not have existed without the land provided at low if any cost by the coal industry.
Some critics of surface mining claim that little of the land used for surface mines is potentially developable. However a look at any of the land use plans of coalfield counties shows this claim is simply not valid.
For example, according to the Logan County Land Use Plan, approximately 65 percent of the surface mine sites in the county are within five miles of a four-lane highway. These sites are also close to air transportation and are within a day’s drive of most of the East Coast.
These sites have the potential to be very attractice to economic development, but the post-mine land use also includes residential, educational and recreational uses. As is shown in the list at right, there are many examples of residential, educational and recreational development on these sites.
In West Virginia, the little hollows along which most people live often flood, wiping away lives and life’s work in just minutes. Like industrial and commercial development, the people of West Virginia build their homes along these little hollows because there are no other good options. Building a home on a 50 degree slop is nearly impossible and building on the mountaintop requires providing your own access and utilities.
Former mine lands can be configured for residential development. At Bright Mountain in Nicholas County, a former mine site provides home sites for more than 100 homes. In Weirton, almost 80 percent of the community is on former mine lands. In Eastern Kentucky, entire towns are relocating to former mine lands in order to escape the constant flooding.
The calculation is a simple one -- West Virginia needs to diversity its economy. In order to do that, the state needs readily developable lands. Surface mining provides that developable land. Therefore surface mine lands fulfill a need the state has to provide good quality, high paying jobs today and in the future.
Examples of Development on Former Mine Lands
King Coal Highway/Coalfields Expressway and Industrial Park (McDowell County, Mingo County and others in southern West Virginia)
Federal Prison (McDowell County
The Highlands/Cabela’s (Wheeling)
Aquaculture – Raising Fish (Mingo County)
Columbia Wood Products (Nicholas County)
Bright Mountain (Nicholas County)
Wood Products (Mingo County)
Twisted Gun Golf Course (Mingo County)
Pete Dye Golf Course (Harrison County)
Southwest Regional Jail (Logan County)
Logan Airport (Logan)
Robert C. Byrd High School (Harrison County)
Mount View High School (McDowell County)
Several Shopping Malls
New Hope Village
Anker Sports Complex (Monongalia County)
Beckley YMCA Soccer Complex (Raleigh County)
FBI Complex (Harrison County)
Proposed High School along King Coal Highway
Proposed Airport along King Coal Highway (Mingo County)
Knights of Columbus Community Park (Tucker County)
Davis Cemetery (Monongalia)
Coal has a rich heritage in West Virginia and has contributed significantly to the progress and well-being of West Virginians since it was first discovered in what is now Boone County in 1742 by Peter Salley, more than a century before West Virginia became a state.
The coal industry has played a major leadership role in the state’s economic, political and social history. The industry has also been a center of controversy and the brunt of unfounded criticism, giving rise to battles in the arenas of labor, environment and safety. It was coal that transformed West Virginia from a frontier state to an industrial state. Coal in 62 recoverable seams can be found in 43 of the state’s 55 counties.
The first widespread use of West Virginia coal began when the salt works along the Kanawha River expanded dramatically in the decades before the Civil War. Coal was used to heat the brine pumped from salt beds underneath the river. That modest use soon was dwarfed by the demands of a growing nation that looked to coal to heat its homes, power its factories and fuel its locomotives and steamships. When the anthracite fields of Pennsylvania no longer could provide the tonnage needed, American industrialists discovered the massive coalfields of West Virginia. Large-scale investment soon opened the remote valleys along the New, Bluestone, Tug, Monongahela, and Guyandotte rivers.
The Chesapeake & Ohio and Norfolk & Western railroads were built specifically to penetrate the rugged terrain of the coalfields, and investors purchased extensive tracts of land to lease to independent coal operators, Later, the Virginian and the Baltimore & Ohio also became coal-hauling lines as well. In those days, coal mining was highly labor intensive, but only a few rugged mountaineers lived in the remote, isolated hills and hollows where the operations developed. Thus, operators recruited much of their labor from two human migrations underway around 1900. Thousands of African-Americans fleeing discrimination and segregation left the Deep South, and many exchanged the poverty of the cotton fields for the bustling coalfields. Meanwhile, European immigrants fleeing religious persecution and impending war came to America to find jobs and homes, and many came from coal-bearing regions of Europe to the prosperous mines in West Virginia.
Today many decry conditions in the “coal camps,” but miners and their families fared as well as most working class Americans, and better than those unfortunate souls who labored in urban sweatshops or as rural sharecroppers.
West Virginia’s coalfields were home to some of the most significant labor strife in this nation’s history, as the United Mine Workers battled coal operators for control of the industry. Spectacular incidents such as the famed Matewan Massacre and the Battle of Blair Mountain, landmarks in American labor history, showed the strategic importance of the state’s crucial industry, and its national significance.
Today, West Virginia’s coal industry contains more than 500 mines, provides more than 44,000 direct and contract jobs, pays $1 billion dollars in annual payroll and hundreds of million dollars to state and local governments in taxes and contributions. Coal is still the rock-solid backbone of West Virginia’s industrial economy.