The litany of voices pointing to the writing on the wall for the Central Appalachian coal industry continues to grow. They’re saying the same thing in almost every way imaginable, and have been for some time.
Watching coal production decline and demand shift as other energy sources out-compete coal domestically, it is vital that policymakers in Central Appalachia begin implementing policies and investments aimed at building a foundation for economic alternatives in coal-producing counties. A report released this morning by the consulting firm Downstream Strategies is a pretty good reminder why.
“The Continuing Decline in Demand for Central Appalachian Coal: Market and Regulatory Influences” expands on a January 2010 study and provides a detailed look at the challenges Central Appalachia faces, further making the case for the urgent need to act.
As the report’s lead author, Rory McIlmoil, who recently joined Appalachian Voices’ staff as energy policy director, points out:
Numerous factors influence demand for Central Appalachian coal, each of which has had — and will continue to have — a significant impact on the local economies where the coal is mined. In 2010, we recommended that state and local leaders take immediate steps to help diversify coalfield economies. To a large extent, that has not happened. However, it is vital that public officials begin making the political and financial investments necessary to build the foundation for new economic development opportunities in coal-producing counties.