In the wake are thousands of coal miners left holding the bag filled with mortgages and college tuitions for their children.
My pro-coal roots are no secret by now. And it sickens me to hear about family and friends in my home state of West Virginia who are without work due to the restrictions placed on coal markets nationwide by President Obama’s energy policies.
And I fear those policies will only grow stronger over the next four years since President Obama’s re-election appears inevitable.
Let’s take a look at the impact coal has on our nation’s economy. The following facts are reported by Natural Resources Partners, a publicly traded company (NRP) that owns coal, aggregate and oil and gas reserves across the United States that generate royalty income for the partnership:
• Thirty-seven percent of the electricity generated worldwide is produced from coal, down only one percent since 1999. Hydro, nuclear and natural gas come in at 17-18 percent each.
• Coal is by far the cheapest source of power fuel per Btu, averaging less than half the price of petroleum and natural gas.
• The value of coal produced in the United States each year is nearly $20 billion.
• Coal is directly responsible for more than 90,000 U.S. jobs and nearly one million jobs directly and indirectly. (Coal-related jobs tend to be better paying jobs)
• Coal mining has a combined direct and indirect impact of $161 billion annually on the U.S. economy. This is $596 for every U.S. citizen.
• The federal government receives more than $11 billion annually in taxes and fees from the coal industry. State and local governments receive nearly $9 billion each year in revenues.
• Developing countries’ demand for coal will double through 2020, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
• Coal reserves are spread over almost 100 countries. Proven coal reserves are estimated to last over 200 years with current production rates. In contrast, proven oil and gas reserves are equivalent to around 40 and 60 years.
These coal facts speak for themselves. But I would like to take this issue one step further by injecting a human element. I received the following submission from “proud Black Warrior coal miner” Aaron Landen. He writes:
Many people dislike what we do. They hate to see us coming. They say we just tear up the land. Even President Obama wants to give us the can.
But miners of all kinds are the backbone of this country. From our digging of raw materials everything we use today is made.
So, for my coal-mining brothers of Walker County, I write this as a gift for our hard work that is overlooked.
Hard work and coal mining are deep in my roots and the wear and tear shows on my boots. I wake up each day, pray for another great, glorious and safe day in which God leads the way.
Many people would complain about the long hours and only having time to eat and take hot showers, and then get up and do it all over again. But I do it every day with a grin.
One slip-up could mean death or serious injury, but that’s the risk I take for my family and this country. Many may disagree with what we coal miners do, but you would not understand unless you were walking in our shoes.
Long and hard-fought days and nights make sure everyone has lights. We stand together as brothers of coal like ants digging a hole. We watch each other’s backs to make sure everyone stays on track, our eyes glued on our brothers to make sure they make it home back to their mothers and lovers.
We help each other out as the economy attacks us all, so we can come back to look at these black walls. We stand tall and proud of our work, even though many think it’s easy; we’re just digging dirt.
By the end of the day we are all tired and some of us go home to kids that are wired. Not much time is spent at home, but our work worldwide is shown and known.
Many may call us crazy, but on the other hand we may just call you lazy. When the day is over we can look over our shoulders and see a job well done. We sleep tight at night, knowing we made an honest living and that our families will be all right.
Well said, Aaron!
Jack McNeely is Publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle and can be contact by phone at 205-221-2840 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.