Front Porch Blog

A Long Journey Across Water: Appalachian Coal Exports on the Rise, Study Says

A fair percentage of mountaintop removal-mined Appalachian coal is apparently not staying in Appalachia. Nor the Southeast. Nor even the U.S.

As a Chinese fortune I once saw said, it’s heading for a long voyage across the great water.

According to a report prepared by the Democratic staff of the Natural Resources Committee and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass), exports of mountaintop removal mined coal in Appalachia have exploded in the past few years, with more than 97 mountaintop removal mines in Appalachia collectively exporting 27 percent of their production in 2011 — more than doubling the export percentage from 2008.

The coal is apparently heading for places like Russia, South America, China and India.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • Coal exports from these mines in [West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Virginia] have grown by 91 percent since 2009 to 13.2 million tons in 2011.
  • Twenty-five of those mines exported more than half of their production in 2011.
  • One Russian company is exporting nearly 83 percent of the coal from three mines in West Virginia
  • Five mines are shipping 100 percent of their coal abroad

According to the Committee’s press release, the study’s results were gathered using “data from the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, and included self-reported data from the mines themselves.”

The report, entitled “Our Pain, Their Gain,” seems to point to the fact that Appalachian communities, and even Appalachian miners (see Ken Ward’s post titled “Strip miners face serious black lung risks”) are being sacrificed for profit from overseas sales. But the coal industry wouldn’t think of doing that, now would it?

Or, would it?

Sadly, I think it already is.

Read the full release and report here.

Jamie is an Appalachian native with a deep and unshakeable love of the mountains her family has called home since the mid-1700s. With a background in journalism and communications, she has worked as AV's Senior Communications Coordinator since 2008, and served as editor (2008-2016) and consulting editor (2016-present) for The Appalachian Voice.

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