Four regional coal producers have changed and expanded the Virginia Coal & Energy Alliance (VCEA) to form the Metallurgical Coal Producers Association (MCPA), which will focus on issues specific to the metallurgical coal industry in the United States. The change was promoted by a decrease in demand for thermal coal and shift in production toward met coal from the producers, Contura Energy Inc., Coronado Coal LLC, United Coal Co. LLC and Ramaco Resources Inc.

The association said it will begin its initial advocacy efforts in Virginia and West Virginia.

“The coal industry has experienced a tremendous transformation over the past decade,” MCPA Chairman and Chairman and CEO of Contura Energy David Stetson said. “Collectively, the four coal producers and our associate members see value in building an association that pools our resources and channels our efforts for a common purpose.”

Harry Childress, who served as president of the Virginia Coal & Energy Alliance, will serve in that same role for the MCPA. Childress will also serve as the lead director for Virginia affairs.

Troutman Pepper law firm, based in Richmond, Virginia, will also continue its service as regulatory counsel and lobbyist for the association in Virginia.

Barbara Altizer, who served as the executive director of education and outreach of the Virginia Coal & Energy Alliance, will continue in the same role in the new organization.

The association also retained the services of Ben Beakes, and his firm Three Point Strategies, to direct West Virginia affairs. Beakes will serve as the chief lobbyist and face of the association in West Virginia. He was the director of external affairs for Alpha Natural Resources before launching his own lobbying company.

“Traditionally, coal has been understood through its use in generating electricity,” Stetson said. “We hope to expand the general public’s knowledge and understanding of coal in our everyday lives. Metallurgical coal makes progress possible and is critical to our economy.

“Automobiles, household appliances, bridges, and buildings are a few products requiring steel which is made possible by metallurgical coal. When you think of coal, think of steel, think of progress.”

The producing members aim to focus on their regional presence by combining forces to advance their collective interests. The association said it is currently in discussions with other metallurgical coal producers that expressed interest in the association.

The officers of the association include Stetson as chairman; Vice President of Coronado Coal Bob Cline as vice chairman; Vice President of United Coal Co. JP Richardson as treasurer; Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Ramaco Resources BJ Sturgill as secretary; and Vice President and General Counsel of United Coal Co. Paul Konstanty as assistant secretary.