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Earl Ray Tomblin
Huge drop in West Virginia coal production forecast

West Virginia University researchers predict that state coal production will drop 39 percent compared with the industry's last high point in 2008 — less-than-encouraging news for more than 1,800 coal miners who learned last week they would likely lose their jobs. Already-struggling southern coalfield counties would bear the brunt of the industry's downturn, with an expected 29 percent production drop in 2035, compared to 2014. The dwindling coal industry has ravaged that region with job losses, and has even necessitated cuts to government services. The report rattles off a combination of familiar economic, geological and regulatory challenges: weak export demand; less use...