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West Virginia has a long history with coal. Since its inception, the extraction of coal has provided income and jobs to the State as well as providing much needed fuel for the entire country. It has even been said that West Virginia and its coal helped build the United States because of the steel industry’s dependence on coal. With such a long and storied history, some families in West Virginia have become reliant upon the income that coal mining brings to their respective households. Accordingly, some residents are concerned about the announcement of State law makers last week regarding the number of active coal mining sites in West Virginia.

It has been reported that there are now less than 100 active coal mining sites in West Virginia.[1] The exact number of active sites is currently at 96, a number that has continued to drop over the past two years.[2] Although coal and its benefits are widely contested topics, the impact that the industry itself has on West Virginia is undeniable. As the number of mining sites declines, so too does the number of West Virginians that are able to provide for their families. The fact is, less coal mining jobs in West Virginia is bad for the State economy, bad for unemployment rates, and bad for many residents and their wallets.

The finger is pointed in various directions when trying to analyze the decline of coal mining in West Virginia. President Obama and his administration are often faulted for harming the coal industry.[3] Natural gas abundance is another recipient of blame.[4] The focus of this blog, however, is not to find fault for the decline in coal mining. Rather, this blog serves to shed led on an issue of much broader scope: jobs in West Virginia.

As it becomes clear that a long-standing source of jobs in West Virginia is on the decline, the need for other sources of employment throughout West Virginia also becomes clear. The welfare of this State is everyone’s responsibility. From the halls of the capital building in Charleston to the outskirts of rural West Virginia, everyone has the potential to impact the future of the West Virginia job market. Education, investment, advocacy, and political accountability are all potential avenues for positive future impact.

Political accountability is maybe the most important avenue. With next week’s election rapidly approaching, it is certainly the most timely of the list. Political accountability is born out of concerned residents taking the time to learn the platforms of their potential representatives and then going to the ballot and voicing their opinions. Without concerned and educated voters, the government becomes less representative of the needs of the State and more representative of the needs of politicians. Right now, West Virginia and its residents need jobs.

Accordingly, this blog and the members of the Berthold Law Firm strongly encourage everyone to take some time on November 4th to go out and exercise their constitutionally protected right to vote. Without voters democracy fails, and so too does the system itself. There are so many resources available to find out the truth about the candidates up for election, so please take the time to really research the potential candidates voting record, who is actually financing their campaigns, and whether they would be strong candidates to bring jobs and sustainability to West Virginia.

Some resources to check out are:​

[2] Id.