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Argument: Mountaintop coal mining is critical to some regions

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Chris Hamilton of the West Virginia Coal Association: "let’s go to the math — the coal industry provides 60,000 jobs today at an average salary of $68,500 per year. The industry pays more than $3.4 billion each year in payroll and pumps some $26 billion into the state’s economy. That is no small contribution. It is the very bedrock of our state’s economy. 'About 45 percent of that impact comes from surface mining, and it is important to note that often the existence of a surface mine provides the economic support that allows affiliated underground mines to exist in an area. If you remove the surface mine component, you will likely make some underground mining facilities un-economic to operate.'"

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