Coal country may not be where you think it is. Shockingly West Virginia is a distant second place
in coal production. Wyoming produces almost 4 times as much coal as West Virginia, with less than half
as many full-time workers. Wyoming's miners produce at a rate of 27.4 tons of coal per employee hour versus West Virginia's 2.8 tons per employee hour (EIA PDF Report
). That means that a miner in Wyoming produces almost 10 times as much coal per hour
compared to a miner in West Virginia.
With the current low price of natural gas on top of the raw efficiency of Wyoming's mines, coal mining in Appalachia is an industry that may not be competitive or viable in the future. A recent op-ed in the New York Times titled Coal Country Is a State of Mind
highlights the disparity between nostalgia for the past versus reality of today's economic market. Today, coal mining brings to mind dust-covered West Virginians wearing hard hats, but a more accurate image is of Wyoming's vast mechanized coal pits.