Association Leaders Join State Officials to Discuss Importance of Coal Exports

Senate President Jeff Kessler talks about importance of coal exports to state’s economy in remarks to the Coal Forum II in Wheeling.

WHEELING — According to information released by the West Virginia Division of Commerce in February, West Virginia coal exports grew by 40 percent last year, increasing from $5.3 billion in 2011 to $7.4 billion in 2012.  West Virginia coal accounted for 49 percent of U.S. coal exports in 2012.

The West Virginia Coal Forum, in conjunction with West Liberty University, conducted a meeting on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at West Liberty University’s Highland Energy Center in Triadelphia, West Virginia.

The West Virginia Coal Forum is an organization representing both labor and management in the coal industry

Robin Capehart, president of West Liberty University kicked off the meeting by welcoming event attendees and recognizing the importance of the coal industry to the northern panhandle and the State.  He stated, “I learned from an early age the importance of the mining industry and all that coal does for our region.  My father worked at an area power plant and I also worked for a business that did work for the industry.  We need to do all we can to assure a bright future for coal and West Liberty stands ready to assist.”

Jeff Kessler, president of the West Virginia Senate and a native of Marshall County, headlined the event.  “There is no doubt that West Virginia will continue to produce coal,” Kessler stated.  “Many may not realize it, but Marshall County is the state’s top coal producing county.  That’s my home and I’m proud of that fact.”

“Concerning the new federal policies confronting the industry, we need stability and predictability.  We need reasonable regulation and a reasonable time frame within which to adapt and comply.”

Ritchie Parsons, representing Congressman David McKinley, read a letter from the Congressman.  McKinley said, “Coal will continue to be the backbone and cornerstone of West Virginia’s economy and I am doing everything I can in Washington to make sure that is the case.”

Bill Raney and Chris Hamilton with the West Virginia Coal Association, Mike Zervos, CEO of United Coal and Jeff Herholdt, WV Dept. of Energy, discussed the importance of coal exports to the state budget and the factors involved in the global coal export market.

Deigo Gattesco, director, U.S. Export Assistance Center for the region covering West Virginia, affirmed the tremendous increase in coal exports.  He said that exports have risen from several hundred million dollars in 2002 to more than $7 billion in 2012.  “I would encourage the coal industry to utilize the services of the U.S. Commercial Service.  We are here to help and can assist in a myriad of ways.  From identifying prospective customers in other countries to arranging meetings.  “That is our job and we are here to help,” Gattesco said.

A third Coal Forum meeting is being planned for Martinsburg, West Virginia.  It will be held September 4, at the Holiday Inn in Martinsburg.

In addition, our Coal Forum event in Wheeling was well covered in the media.



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