CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- An economic geologist says Central Appalachian coal mining has been falling for more than a decade and is never returning to what he calls "the glory days."
Alan Stagg is president Stagg Resource Consultants in Cross Lanes.
He tells The Associated Press the decline occurred even without new environmental regulations for coal-fired power plants or mountaintop removal mines.
West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southeastern Virginia have mined coal for more than a century, and Stagg says they'll likely mine for decades to come. But he says challenges facing the industry go far beyond regulation.
They include slowing economies, the demise of old, inefficient power plants and competition from natural gas.
Stagg believes the Obama administration is anti-coal, but he says the problems facing the industry are driven by markets.