CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia lawmakers are taking a closer look at the recent struggles of the state's coal industry.A House-Senate committee assigned to economic development matters has made the issue the topic of its Monday interim meeting. Legislators expect to hear from state officials about the economic challenges facing the industry as well as recent job losses.Other officials have been asked to comment on the future prospects of coal mining, and what the recent downturn means for coalfield communities.
West Virginia is the nation's second-biggest coal producer. Mining plays a key role in providing state tax revenues. But such factors as cheap natural gas have helped trigger a downturn in production. That has led to mine shutdowns and layoffs.