coal

Coal mines in Kentucky and West Virginia will send millions of tons of coal to India, under the terms of a 25-year contract that was signed Wednesday. The deal is being hailed as a sign of hope in the coal export market.

The Associated Press reports that government inspectors have been keeping watch over coal operators through aerial surveillance in Central Appalachia, a region in which mountaintop removal mining has been controversial. The Kentucky Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement has spent more than $477,000 over the past four years for helicopter flights.

One of the world's largest coal producers says it will lay off about 750 workers in the Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia coalfields. It's the latest setback for an industry struggling for market share as utilities switch to cleaner and cheaper alternatives.

Administrative Law Judge Margaret A. Miller ruled that Cumberland River Coal Company improperly fired 52-year-old Charles Scott Howard of Letcher County after he was injured on the job. The judge ordered Howard reinstated and says the company must pay a $30,000 fine.

U.S. Energy Information Administration

Federal officials now say coal accounts for slightly more than one-third of the electricity generated in the United States. Coal's percentage of the market hasn't been that low in decades.

As the Environmental Protection Agency begins its public forums on coal mining permits in Kentucky, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell is rallying for coal to be a bigger part of the nation's energy portfolio.

Some county officials in Kentucky are criticizing Governor Steve Beshear's authorization of more than $4 million from coal tax revenue to provide college scholarships to students from nine eastern Kentucky counties over the next two years.

Governor Steve Beshear has created a program lawmakers could not. The governor has released $4 million to be given as scholarships to Eastern Kentucky college students. Lawmakers wrestled with several scholarship proposals during the last legislative session, but an agreement was never passed.

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