Laurita to Lead Coal Association

Morgantown Dominion Post
12 August 2012
By Chelsea Fuller

After serving the West Virginia Coal Association for many years, local businessman Jim Laurita Jr. has been named chairman of the organization’s board of directors for the 2012-’13 term.

“The West Virginia Coal Association is a very large organization filled with a lot of people I aspire to be like,” Laurita said. “I am very honored and looking forward to leading the organization forward.”

President and CEO of MEPCO Inc. in Morgantown, Laurita has been immersed in the coal and energy industries for decades; which is one of the main reasons he was selected as chairman, said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association.

“Jim’s been on the executive committee and the board for several years now, and he’s been very active in the industry here in West Virginia, but also in Pennsylvania and on the national scene as well,” Raney said.

Based in Charleston, the trade organization represents more than 90 percent of West Virginia’s underground and surface coal mine production, according to its website.

Raney said the group’s mission is “to speak with one voice for the industry and make sure that what we do makes the lives of the coal miners, their families and the managers better. We also strive to make our coal operations run smoother than anywhere in the country.”

Laurita said that as chairman, he plans to reinforce the organization’s public relations presence to better educate people about our nation’s energy crisis.

“Our previous chairman, Garry White, did a fantastic job, so I’m planning to pick up where he left off,” Laurita said. “But one of my main objectives is to better inform people about our country’s energy situation. I don’t think a lot of people understand how risky all of this is for our national security.”

Raney said Laurita is one of the great visionaries in the coal and energy industries. Laurita’s expertise is seen throughout the industry; particularly through his involvement with Morgantown’s Longview Power Plant.

“Jim was instrumental in the creation of the Longview Power Plant, which is the cleanest burning power plant in the world, and one of the most efficient,” Raney said. “So Jim and others involved in the industry in Morgantown and the state are setting the bar for the country, and the world as it pertains to bringing coal mining and energy generation together.”

Laurita comes from a long line of West Virginia coal miners, Raney said, and his work would make his family extremely happy. “His father was a coal miner and so was his grandfather, and I think he is carrying their legacy very proudly.”

Laurita and Raney agree that when it comes to coal and energy, this is a difficult time in the United States. It takes the work of dedicated people to create the kind of change that is necessary to revitalize the industry.

“Our organization will, and we will do everything we can to affect the policies that are going out of Washington. It is important for the coal industry to exist in the way it has in years past,” Raney said. “We need to change the federal administration’s approach and view of coal mining.”