Seven of Utah’s 29 counties depend heavily on coal mining and electricity production from coal. But their future prosperity may depend on finding alternatives to coal and the high-paying jobs it provides in the stateâ€™s rural economy.
Utah’s Coal Communities, the third report in Utah Foundation’s series on Utah’s coal industry and the communities that depend on it, looks at the long-term future of communities that depend on coal today. As David Bird, a lawyer and lobbyist for mining companies points out, “Coal will be an indispensable element of the energy mix for a long time to come.” But communities such as Carbon County are looking to varied examples of rural development, from manufacturing to tourism to transportation. Further, there are examples outside of Utah such as the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority as possible models for Utah’s future. Over almost 30 years, it has helped to create more than 20,000 jobs in Virginia’s seven-county coal producing region.