It hasn’t been a good stretch for the Kentucky coal industry.
Demand for coal continues to shrivel in the United States as more power companies switch to natural gas.
Coal severance tax receipts that go to the counties and the region are down $88 million dollars. And mining companies have laid off more than 2,000 workers in Eastern Kentucky – and perhaps as many as 3,000, said Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville.
And while emerging economies like China and India are using more coal, the United States is poised to cut back with the number of coal-fired power plants nationally dropping to 384 from 521 in 2010, as McClatchy Newspapers national correspondent Sean Cockerham reported last week.
Still, Eastern Kentucky leaders have remained hopeful that coal can rebound. Several, led by Combs and Democratic House Floor Leader Rocky Adkins of Catlettsburg, said so on the House floor Thursday during a debate over creating new scholarships for students in coal-producing counties.