May 24th, 2010
Coal is deeply woven into every aspect of West Virgina and its people. The fossil fuel is found in 53 of the state’s 55 counties and underground mines produced 97 million tons of coal in 2008. West Virginia’s coal industry provides about 30,000 jobs, including miners, mine contractors, coal preparation plant employees and mine supply companies, according to the state’s Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training. But amid coal mining accidents and concerns about coal-related pollution, a more vigilant Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama Administration is beginning to put the brakes on the state’s history of widespread mining by slowing the permitting process.