Coal companies, including Murray Energy Corp. , have been under increasing pressure to close mines, especially those in western Kentucky.
Last month, Murray Energy announced it would close two coal mines in western Indiana and one in western Pennsylvania.
And on Thursday, the Trump administration announced it was halting all federal coal leasing programs, including one in Kentucky.
But coal is not the only industry facing significant risks in the wake of the election of President Donald Trump.
More: Trump’s proposed coal mining ban is a setback for the U.S. coal industry, says James Treadway, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research and policy organization.
“The federal coal industry is a key driver of the economy, and it’s one of the few industries that’s going to have to make some tough choices in the years ahead,” Treadwell said.
Murray Energy and other coal companies say the uncertainty over the future of their operations is the most significant factor holding back coal production in Western Kentucky and Indiana.
Last year, coal mining jobs in the state declined by about 1,500, the company reported.
Murray Energy said it would cut jobs in western and central Kentucky by 2,000.
Coal mining jobs declined in the western region by 2.2 percent and in central Kentucky, by 1.6 percent.
For years, coal companies have been trying to keep their operations afloat by investing in infrastructure and upgrading equipment.
But now, the uncertainty about the future could cause some coal miners to lay off staff and pull out of the industry altogether, said Steve T. Williams, president and CEO of Appalachian Resources, a coal company based in Kentucky that owns the coal mines at the edge of Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains.
The mine will be the last coal mine in the region, Williams said.