Huge drop in West Virginia coal production forecast

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia University researchers predict that state coal production will drop 39 percent compared with the industry's last high point in 2008.

The WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research released a report Thursday assessing coal production outlook over the next 20 years.

The forecast says production will fall from 115 million short tons in 2014, to 104 million short tons this year, to 98 million short tons in 2016.

Despite a moderate rebound from 2017 to 2020, production would drop to less than 96 million short tons in 2035. West Virginia produced 158 million short tons in 2008.

A 29-percent drop would hit the already struggling southern coalfields by 2035. Northern coalfields production would only drop somewhat.

The report attributes coal's continued downfall to various economic, environmental and regulatory factors.