If you've read a newspaper, visited an airport, or driven on the highway lately, you've probably noticed a billboard or advertisement or two blaming the EPA for destroying coal jobs or creating a no job zone through environmental regulations. The supposed effects of the "war on coal" are not limited to Appalachia either, as U.S. representative Mike Simpson of Idaho recently claimed that, " ... the overregulation from EPA is at the heart of our stalled economy."
But if EPA regulations are creating a "no job zone" in Appalachia and stalling economic growth, then one would expect to find some serious declines in mining employment. But that isn't the case. In fact, according to the BLS numbers, in the past 12 months, the mining sector has seen the largest increase in employment in West Virginia.
Despite being a primary target of environmental regulation, the mining sector in West Virginia has been the fastest growing sector of the economy in the past year. The trend holds true nationally too. The national data from the BLS, which can be broken down a little bit more, shows coal mining employment growth easily outpacing the rest of the economy, trailing only oil and gas extraction, and support activities for mining.
Despite the rhetoric, there doesn't seem to be a "no job zone" created by the EPA hurting coal. If this has been the result of the "War on Coal"
so far, should we declare war on construction and manufacturing too?