11/14/2012 6:29 PM
by Mike Pickett
A government study predicts coal production to decline in Central Appalachia the next ten years, but what could cause that prediction to be right or wrong?
Coal industry experts say one factor could be the type of coal that's mined. Southern West Virginia's full of high quality, or bituminous, coal, which they say is better than coal from western states like wyoming. Another factor could be the EPA's mining regulations. Some say they're too restrictive and are making it harder to get to coal seems with higher quality coal, which could be hundreds of feet underground.
"We're being regulated, over regulated, to the point where we can't go down to get those better seems because we are being held to very stringent type parameters where we can't dump this fill to get there," says Bill Alderman of Southern WV Community & Technical College.
But other groups, such as the WV Center for Budget & Policy say the agency's role is not that big and that it won't stop competition from out west, and it sure isn't going to stop cheap natural gas.
Other possible factors include demand from overseas and changes in mining technology.