Less coal produced means less tax revenue and lost jobs, but how can counties adapt to a possible reduction in coal production in Central Appalachia?
Some counties such as McDowell are working to bring in more manufacturers and businesses. A major part of that effort is getting the King Coal Highway and Coalfields Expressway finished. Those roads will make it easier for them to get their goods out.
"It'll just open up McDowell County for all kinds of development. It'll make us accessible for manufacturers to come here. A manufacturer isn't going to come here if they can't get their product out," says Peni Adams of the McDowell Co. Economic Development Authority. "So, it's very important we get at least one of those roads built."
Then there's Reconnecting McDowell. The effort's plan to fix long standing problems will provide better educational and employment opportunities to help make the county less dependent on coal mining. Some think a solution lies at the state level. Fayette County Commissioner Matthew Wender says lawmakers should look at ways to make up for lost tax revenues.
"I think there'll be a lot of pressure to let them have some flexibility for counties to create other sources of revenue. Maybe a severance tax on marcellus shale extraction," he says.
Another option for mcdowell county is tourism, especially with the growing popularity of the Hatfield-McCoy trail system in some major coal producing counties, including McDowell.