HARRISBURG, Pa., April 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The coal industry supports more than 36,000 jobs across all sectors of Pennsylvania's economy and contributes more than $4 billion per year to the state's economy, according to a new economic impact study unveiled today.
The study was conducted by the Pennsylvania Economy League and was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance. It updates earlier figures and details the coal industry's impact across various sectors of the Pennsylvania economy, including employment, production and transportation.
"The economic impact of the coal industry in Pennsylvania reaches far beyond the industry itself by generating jobs across all sectors of the economy," said alliance CEO John Pippy. "It's important for residents and legislators to be made aware these effects, especially in the midst of pressure to eliminate coal from our nation's energy mix."
Pippy was referring to proposed emission standards for new and existing coal-fired power plants, which would force the shutdown of as many as half of the country's 600 plants, resulting in the loss of thousands of family-sustaining jobs.
The report employs standard methodology to examine the economic impact, using data collected by federal agencies. Findings from the report include:
The coal industry is responsible for almost 36,200 full and part-time jobs in Pennsylvania. Of those, about 13,900 are direct coal industry jobs, each of which creates 1.6 additional jobs outside the coal industry.
Coal mining and related activities contribute $4.1 billion annually to Pennsylvania's gross domestic product.
The report notes that mining wages are significantly higher than the average salary for private sector jobs in Pennsylvania, by about $30,000 per year.
In 2011, the most recent year in which data were available, Pennsylvania produced 68 million tons of coal, making it the nation's fourth-largest producer.
Of Pennsylvania's 67 counties, 30 are home to coal-mining activities and associated jobs.
"The family-sustaining jobs the coal industry supports are critical to the health of our economy," Pippy stated. "That's why we need to look carefully at emission standards that would close hundreds of coal-fired power plants and eliminate thousands of jobs, and determine whether there is a more rational approach."
Pippy noted that the coal alliance has been pushing for a collaborative solution, similar to that employed by federal regulators in working with the auto industry to tighten federal mileage standards, thus saving the U.S. auto industry.
"In the mad rush to eliminate coal from our nation's energy mix, nobody is looking at the economic consequences," Pippy said. "Clean-coal technology has significantly reduced emissions, yet people choose to ignore the facts."
In addition to widespread job loss and economic downturn, the consequences of eliminating coal energy would include higher electricity prices for consumers, Pippy noted.
"Ironically, it would have little or no impact in terms of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, because other countries are increasing their reliance on coal," he said. "It amounts to unilateral economic disarmament, and it would hand other countries a competitive edge."
The Pennsylvania Coal Alliance was founded in 2012 to educate citizens and policymakers about the coal industry in Pennsylvania. For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance's web site at www.PaCoalAlliance.com.