Study touts benefits of lignite coal industry in Texas

According to a study conducted by the Center for Economic Development and Research (CEDR) at the University of North Texas, lignite coal mining, the manufacture of activated carbon from lignite coal and coal-fired power generation create just over $7bn in economic activity in Texas annually.

That is in addition to supporting 24,290 total jobs in the state that pay $1.8bn in labor income and injecting more than $693m in revenue to state and local governments.

“This evidence supported study proves once again that lignite mining and related industries are essential to the production of the goods, services and infrastructure that stoke the engine of our economy and contribute to the comfort and convenience of our daily lives.” said Ches Blevins, the Texas Mining and Reclamation Association‘s (TMRA) executive director, in a Jan. 13 statement.

Commissioned by the TMRA, the study confirmed that lignite coal mining and coal-fired electricity generation are important economic engines in Texas, and that economic activity from these industries spark business activity up and down their respective supply chains, creating jobs and income for Texas residents including many small communities. Moreover, as a reliable source of fuel for electric power generation, Texas lignite coal is an important component of power source diversification efforts, which makes the U.S. more energy independent and Texas a more competitive place to do business.

“Lignite coal operations help drive the Texas economy and are necessary to provide a stable, affordable energy mix for the state,” said University of North Texas CEDR Senior Research Associate Dr. Michael Seman.  “Beyond the numbers, lignite coal mining operations are important components of their surrounding communities. From employees volunteering at local schools and as first responders to the wide range of employment opportunities and careers provided in rural regions of the state, the holistic value of lignite coal mining in Texas is significant.”

The state’s lignite industry is in increasing danger lately due to factors like: cheaper gas-fired generation; the U.S. EPA’s CO2-reducing Clean Power Plan and other federal air programs already in place, including the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS); and the fact that cheaper Powder River Basin coal from Wyoming can be railed in and blended with lignite at some of the existing lignite-fired power plants, displacing some of the lignite coal burn. A major operator of lignite-fired power plants, Energy Future Holdings, has lately had to back down some of its lignite units during low power demand periods.

TMRA is the voice for the Texas mining industry and exhibits integrity, clarity and vision in its efforts to create a balance between mineral production, environmental protection, economic strength and public welfare. The association educates the public, regulators and policymakers on the value of mining to our state’s economy and advocates on issues including environmental regulation, legislation and public perception.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.