Arch Coal laying off 750 workers in Appalachia

By: Katie Roach Email
By: Katie Roach Email

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - One of the world's largest coal producers says it will lay off about 750 workers in the Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia coalfields.

It's the latest setback for an industry struggling for market share as utilities switch to cleaner and cheaper alternatives.

Officials with Arch Coal Inc. said Thursday that almost 600 of the job losses will be in Kentucky.

The St. Louis-based company says its subsidiaries will close three mining complexes - two in Kentucky and one in West Virginia. It is temporarily idling another complex in Kentucky and curtailing production at other operations in the three states.

Mining work accounts for some of the best-paying jobs in these areas. Local leaders worry the layoffs reflect a larger decline in the region's coal production.

“Local county governments and ours specifically depend greatly on the revenue that we receive from coal and natural gas,” Knott County Judge Executive Randy Thompson said.

It's not the only the county government that will be feeling the effects of these layoffs.

Knott County Judge Executive Randy Thompson is concerned about the trickledown effect.

“If you're in the banking business, the automobile business, the funeral home business, the furniture business or even the tv business it's going to effect us all,” Thompson said.

Not to mention the miners and their families who are trying to figure out how to make ends meet.

“There may be some minimum wage jobs or some part time jobs here and there but you really can't feed your family on that money,” Thompson said.

The judge executive says he is going to do everything he can to get the economy back on track, but he says this will definitely make things harder for everyone in Knott County.

Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) released the following statement in response to today’s announcement by Arch Coal that approximately 750 mining employees were laid off in Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia:

“Over the last few years, none of President Obama’s efforts to improve the economy and secure our energy future has worked. Unfortunately, he’s been all too successful at waging a job-killing war on coal. I am saddened by today’s news and the hardship these job losses will place on families and southern and eastern communities, already grappling with high unemployment and tight budgets. There’s no question a warm winter, low demand for thermal coal, and cheap natural gas prices have indeed produced setbacks for coal this year, but the Obama Administration has continually kicked the industry while it’s down and shown total disregard for the people of our region. Deadlocked mining permits, rule changes, and crippling regulations on power plants are already threatening the future of Appalachian coal. Only once this Administration ends its attacks on Kentucky’s mining families and recognizes coal is vital to our country’s energy and economic security will we have a chance to recover lost ground.”

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following comment on Thursday regarding the layoffs of coal miners in Kentucky:

"This is another devastating blow to Kentucky’s mining community and the families who rely on coal for their livelihoods. Our coal miners are some of the hardest working Americans, and it’s heart-breaking that the Obama Administration's war on coal has yet again contributed to more job losses in this industry.”

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