With a new Ernst & Young report, U.S. Coal Exports: National and State Economic Contributions, Quinn cited widespread benefits from last year’s record exports in addressing the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power. Overall, he added, coal supported 168,430 U.S. jobs across sectors—from mines and railroads to ports and ancillary businesses in more than a dozen states.

Export facilities in Virginia, Louisiana, Maryland and Alabama alone, Quinn added, generated $5.5 billion in economic activity while supporting more than 45,000 jobs at annual median wage exceeding $96,000—far higher than the national average. For every 1 million of the 125 million tons of last year’s coal exports, the industry added 1,320 high-wage jobs to the economy.

“The $16.6 billion that coal exports contributed to the U.S. economy last year was the only net addition to the nation’s trade balance from the energy sector,” Quinn said, noting that U.S. coal provides reliable electricity and raw material for steel to consumers worldwide.

Global demand powered by Asian growth and furthered by energy needs in advanced economies, he added, are a driving force. Rather, “the U.S. has the most of what the rest of the world needs,” he added, cautioning policymakers to ensure America seized the advantage— or fall behind other coal-exporting countries.

For their part, International Energy Agency (IEA) advisors have estimated almost 400 million people need new access to electricity to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2015—a major reason the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts coal to remain the world’s top fuel through 2035.

The benefits for the U.S., Quinn testified, are manifold. “The planned U.S. port expansions on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes would support a more than doubling of coal exports once again,” he said, citing seaborne coal market trends.

In regulatory terms, coal export reviews should address legitimate concerns, said Quinn— but not serve as an excuse to trap projects in bureaucratic limbo. “We should not confuse the length of the process with the rigor of review,” Quinn added.

The National Mining Association (NMA) represents the American mining industry in Washington, with more than 325 companies in all aspects of coal and solid minerals production including coal, metal and industrial mineral producers. Other members include mineral processors, equipment manufacturers, state mining associations, bulk transporters, engineering firms, consultants, financial institutions and other companies supplying goods and services to the mining industry.