Interior Secretary Zinke Applauds Mine Proposal to Create Jobs in Virginia and West Virginia

8/1/2017

Date: July 31, 2017
Contact: Interior_Press@ios.doi.gov

WASHINGTON - Today U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke applauded the initial construction of the Berwind Mine located on the border of West Virginia and Virginia. The developers, Ramaco Resources, expect the mine to initially create 50 good-paying jobs and employ roughly 200 coal miners when the mine reaches its projected production level. The Berwind Coal Reserve is estimated to contain about 72 million tons of clean recoverable metallurgical coal, which is critical for infrastructure and is used for steel, roads, bridges, and building construction. The Berwind Mine will produce about 800,000 tons per year and will create jobs in some of the hardest-hit areas of Appalachian region including McDowell County, West Virginia as well as Buchanan and Tazewell Counties in Virginia.

Although the mine is on private land, the Department of the Interior, through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, had a role in approving wildlife conservation plans for two species of crayfish in conjunction with the State of West Virginia's Department of Environmental Protection.

"Appalachia's coal workers are at the heart of rebuilding our nation's infrastructure because we can't build if we don't access our natural resources," said Secretary Ryan Zinke. "Under President Trump's leadership, the Department of the Interior is dedicated to being a good partner with local communities. This administration is dedicated to streamlining permitting and approval processes, and empowering local employees to get work done on the front lines. The Berwind Mine is the first of many projects that demonstrate the Trump Administration's commitment to coal country and to good government."

"Ramaco appreciates the Trump Administration and the Department of the Interior taking an interest in our project and helping find a solution relative to this unnecessary delay,” said Michael Bauersachs, the CEO of Ramaco Resources. “Coal mining jobs can be created and preserved by a more pragmatic approach to regulation. On behalf of the coal industry, we look forward to seeing better and more timely results from agencies who interact with coal mining."

“On behalf of Secretary Zinke, it was a pleasure to meet the folks in West Virginia involved in this project and to work together to resolve the issues for immediate progress,” said Vincent DeVito, Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy. “This Administration's common sense approach to reasonable regulations enables us to deliver results.”

The West Virginia Coal Association (WVCA) sang President Trump’s praises for his administration’s commitment to rebuilding America’s coal communities. “Once again, President Trump has shown West Virginia coal miners that he meant it when he said he would help them get back to work,” said WVCA Vice President Jason Bostic. “This administration shows exactly how the federal government can be a partner with the states and facilitate coal mining development while still fulfilling its responsibilities to protect the environment."

“The expansion of the Berwind mine will create 50 well-paying jobs, and is a perfect example of what we can achieve when government works as a partner not an adversary,” Senator Joe Manchin said. “It is good news for McDowell County and all of West Virginia. We know that coal will be in the energy mix for decades to come and I’m encouraged by the work of Secretary Zinke and the Fish and Wildlife Service in ensuring this project moves forward. This mine will produce 800,000 tons of clean recoverable metallurgical coal annually that will help rebuild our roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure. This mine is a key ingredient to powering our country’s infrastructure restoration. I look forward to hearing about Berwind mine’s positive impact on McDowell County, I applaud this decision, and I will continue to fight for economic growth throughout our great state.”

“Not only will the Berwind Mine help create jobs for West Virginians, but it will also help our state continue leading the push to improve and expand America’s energy potential,” Senator Shelley Moore Capito said. “It’s great to see the public and private sectors working together to advance this project, and I appreciate the administration’s continued support in promoting a true all-of-the-above energy strategy—both in West Virginia and across the country.”

“I welcome the expansion of the Berwind mine, which extends into Buchanan and Tazewell Counties,” said Virginia Congressman Morgan Griffith. “Miners, other workers at the mine, and employees of mining supply companies will be put to work and be able to spend money in their communities. Localities will receive the appropriate coal severance taxes, which will help support their schools. Thus, Southwest Virginia will benefit from this move.”

“Finally, after eight years of anti-coal policies, coal is beginning to see a rebound," said West Virginia Congressman David B. McKinley, P.E., chairman of the Congressional Coal Caucus. "From increased exports to new mines opening, we’re seeing positive developments in coal country. The Trump Administration is committed to bringing coal jobs back, and we look forward to working together to do just that.”

West Virginia Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection Austin Caperton said, “The legislation that created the WVDEP mandates that we protect the environment ‘in a manner consistent with the benefits to be derived from strong... energy-producing industries’ (WV Code 22-1-1(b)(4). We applaud all efforts at the federal level that allow us to carry out our mission and strike the proper balance.”