Published in the Dominion Post

August 1st, 2019


Lighten load for miners in light of coal’s demise


As Hoppy Kercheval wrote (DP-July 19), coal’s future includes a steady decline in America, and unreliable exports. We must treat coal miners fairly during this decline.


As a society we need to cover miners’ retirement, health care and transition payments when new jobs pay less than mining jobs. For each 100 miners who lose their jobs, a good 10-year transition program would cost $3.4 million per year.


There are only 13,000 coal miners in West Virginia, and 50,000 in the whole country, so we can afford this.


One approach is at, and more approaches can be developed when people start planning together. Coal plants are at the end of their lives and won’t be replaced.


Half of utility executives say they will use significantly less coal over the next decade. Last year recorded the lowest use of coal since 1979. Wind, solar and storage are getting cheaper than fossil fuel plants.


Coal has kept the lights on, so now it is time to ask elected officials and candidates to support a solid transition program when miners lose work.


Paul Burke

Harpers Ferry