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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - " 'King Coal' losing crown: Coal industry in Daviess County dwindling"

A great story today by Mike Grant of the Washington Indiana Times Herald - some quotes:

For a long time in most of southwestern Indiana coal was the king of the economy. Companies pulled the coal out of the ground providing landowners with additional income, trucks rumbled all over the county roads hauling their loads to power plants in Petersburg, Edwardsport and Princeton. Business sprang up to provide services to the mines, the trucking companies and even the power plants.

During the hey-day of coal Daviess County was a busy place.

“Coal was important to us and everyone else,” said former executive director for the Daviess County Chamber of Commerce Dave Cox. “There were times when we had 10 to 12 coal mines operating at once. There were the mines, the miners, the trucking, the service people. One thing led to another and then another.”

Those days led the county commissioners to hold a meeting once a year with the coal companies. During those meetings, roads were closed and opened. Specific routes were set out to haul coal. The meetings could last for days.

This year’s coal meeting lasted only a few minutes. Daviess County has one active mine, Solar Sources Antioch Mine. Peabody is in the process of closing its Viking mine. Only a handful of people showed up to raise a few questions. Simply, King Coal has lost its crown.

“It just shows from our coal meeting there is not a lot going on,” said President of the Daviess County Commissioners Michael Taylor. “We’ve got some old road issues we’re working on. Everything is slowing down.”

Two big factors have played into the demise of coal. One is the energy markets. Domestic discoveries of natural gas and oil have driven down, not just the price for those commodities, but also the price of coal. In addition, clean air regulations have been especially hard on the coal industry and midwestern power generating companies that used to rely exclusively on coal.

“With all of the new EPA regulations, it is slowing them down and they’re not nearly as profitable as they once were,” said Taylor. * * *

While the fight [against EPA air regs] goes on in D.C. in court, in Daviess County the impacts of coal are slipping further and further from the days when mines operated all the way from Epsom to Alfordsville.

“It’s really concerning,” said Daviess County Highway Supervisor Phil Cornelius. “Consider the amount of taxes the coal mines brought into the county. Over the next few years, the rest of the property tax owners will be picking up the additional cost from the loss of mine revenues.”

But the impact will be much deeper than property taxes. It has hit wages, and businesses in southern Indiana.

“There is the loss of income for the people who used to work there and for the companies that supplied the mines,” added Cornelius. “It’s just a bad deal. I know they have some detrimental effects on the roads and tracking dirt. The pluses, though, far outweighed the minuses, and we are going to miss them.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 2, 2016 11:49 AM
Posted to Indiana Government