An analysis of coal mine data released today shows that coal exports have exploded from Appalachian operations over the last few years, with some mines exporting 100 percent of their coal abroad. The report, prepared by the Democratic staff of the Natural Resources Committee, at the direction of Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), calls into question the benefits to America to allow destructive mining practices to continue if that coal is going to subsequently be shipped to foreign nations like China.
The report, Our Pain, Their Gain is available by clicking here. The report analyzed data from the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration and included self-reported data from the mines themselves.
Some of the top findings of the report include:
- The number of mountaintop removal, steep slope and surface mines exporting coal from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Virginia increased from 73 mines in 2008 to 97 in 2011.
- Coal exports from these mines in these four states have grown by 91 percent since 2009 to 13.2 million tons in 2011.
- Twenty-five of those mines exported more than half of their production in 2011. One Russian company is exporting nearly 83 percent of the coal from three mines in West Virginia, and five mines are shipping 100 percent of their coal abroad.
- Overall, these 97 mines exported 27 percent of their production in 2011, more than doubling from 13 percent exported in 2008.
“American families are being subjected to coal mine pollution and damage, just so exports to China and other foreign nations can increase,” said Rep. Markey, who is the ranking member of the Natural Resources Committee. “The coal may be shipped to foreign markets, but the diseases, the destroyed mountaintops and the environmental ruin from these destructive practices are staying right here in America.”
The report comes as Republicans and the coal industry are attempting to beat back safeguards that would protect communities from coal mining pollution, including a hearing held today by the Natural Resources Republicans to attack rules that would protect streams and drinking water from mining operation pollution.
The export issue is not isolated in the Appalachian region, as coal companies mining in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming are angling to vastly increase coal exports.