Kentucky’s jobless rate is still at a troubling high, although the mining industry says it retained jobs over the past two months. But the picture may be more complex for the industry. Appalachian coal production has fallen over the decade. And according to the Energy Information Administration, Kentucky coal is among the more expensive to buy. Berea, Kentucky-based Mountain Association for Community Economic Development’s Justin Maxson says his organization found Kentucky may not be benefiting economically from coal as much as once thought.
“Our report looks at the competitiveness of eastern coal versus western coal. And there are lots of reasons why eastern coal is just less competitive than it used to be. And so the market share is growing smaller, which is part of this tough reality that the longer term economic future of coal is pretty bleak,” says Maxson.
Pending climate change legislation as well as changing mining regulations could also impact the industry.