Coal Mining Jobs in West Virginia Aren't Coming Back

Marketplace (National Public Radio) - West Virginia holds its primary Tuesday amid another war of words over coal mining. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has said, "We're going to put a lot of coal miners out of business." And Republican Donald Trump recently retorted, "We're going to put the miners back to work." Read

The reality of the market, however, suggests many West Virginia mining jobs — whoever is president — will never come back.

For West Virginia coal, cheap and efficient natural gas is leaving it behind as a fuel for generating electricity. Many analysts project natural gas could remain in the range of $5 per unit of energy longer term.

"Forget the clean power plan. You cannot build a coal plant that meets existing regulation today that can compete with $5 gas," Charles Patton, president of Charleston-based Appalachian Power, told a state energy conference recently. "It just cannot happen."

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