New study underlines economic benefits of longwall mining in Pennsylvania

A study by the Pennsylvania Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh found that longwall mining of the Pittsburgh coal seam is a driving economic force for Greene and Washington counties in southwest Pennsylvania, providing substantial jobs and tax revenue to support the region.

“In 2014 we released a report that showed the multibillion dollar economic impact that coal has statewide. This new report draws the data down to the community level and shows the connections between the high quality of life in the region and the family-sustaining jobs provided by the industry,” said Pennsylvania Coal Alliance CEO John Pippy in a March 10 statement.

The study was prepared by the Pennsylvania Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh for the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance. These two counties feature the Bailey, Enlow Fork and Harvey (BMX) longwall mines of CONSOL Energy (NYSE: CNX), and the Emerald and Cumberland longwall mines of Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE: ANR).

“As evidenced by this report, longwall mining helps to power the economy of my Senatorial District,” said state Sen. Camera Bartolotta. “It accounts for over 13 percent of the GDP of Greene and Washington Counties, is the source of over 7,300 jobs in my area and its product – coal — provides all Pennsylvanians with an assurance that the Commonwealth will continue to have an affordable and reliable source of electricity.”

Longwall mining is a very specific type of underground mining and it takes place in Pennsylvania only in Greene and Washington counties. It produces 33,733,448 of the 57,967,127 tons – or 58% – of the bituminous coal mined in the state every year and ranks Greene County third nationally in coal production.

Approximately 7,350 full and part-time jobs in Greene and Washington counties are provided by the longwall mining industry, making it the third largest employer. For each of those direct jobs, an additional 1.1 jobs are added indirectly in the counties.

“Any public discussion about coal mining is incomplete without taking a moment to acknowledge the ‘people impact’ of our industry.  Beyond the well-paying jobs provided, coal mining is the economic backbone of entire regions of our country. When the industry struggles, so do our communities – from the local car dealerships and grocers, to the tax revenues that help build schools and hospitals. This report gives readers a glimpse of how longwall mining contributes to the economic well-being of Pennsylvania and helps sustain those areas where coal miners live and work,” said Brian Turk, Director of Government and External Affairs at Alpha Natural Resources.

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.