HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The future of the coal industry in Northeastern Pennsylvania was the focus of a state hearing Tuesday in Hazleton. For generations, coal was king in NEPA.

Lawmakers heard from coal industry executives and economic groups on Tuesday about the current state of the coal industry and its future, as well as the environmental impact the industry is having on our region.

The Senate Committee on Community, Economic, and Recreational Development heard from coal industry officials. Anthracite coal is still mined in Northeastern Pennsylvania, mostly in strip-mining operations.

Eyewitness news heard Tuesday that the coal industry may no longer be king, but it still plays a major role in the local and state economy. It is used in other products like filtration systems.

A coal company official says there is a huge demand for anthracite coal because of the war in Ukraine which is a major source of the world’s coal supply.

Eyewitness News spoke to the chairman of the Blaschak Coal Corporation based in Schuylkill County.

“The fact of the Russian invasion in Ukraine has impacted anthracite in a big way. Where all of a sudden the world is now coming to Pennsylvania looking for our anthracite. So we have an opportunity to grow here, but it also has to be done in a responsible way, which we will do,” stated Greg Driscoll the Chairman of Blaschak Coal Corporation.

A key point made Tuesday is that abandoned mine lands must be reclaimed so they can be developed for projects like business parks and housing.