Project looks at how coal shaped the economy, communities

Local interviews being conducted as part of study

Leonard L. Hayhurst
Coshocton Tribune
The American Electric Power plant in Conesville closed in May 2020.

COSHOCTON - A research and arts project to document how eastern Ohio has been shaped by changes in the coal industry was awarded a $35,000 grant from the Sustainability Institute at Ohio State University.

The Ohio Coal Transition: Pathways for Community Resilience is a partnership between OSU's School of Environment and Natural Resources, OSU Extension, University Libraries and the departments of Theatre, Geography and Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering.

The multi-county project in Ohio’s Appalachian region is led by a multi-disciplinary group of faculty, staff and students interested in documenting how the coal industry has shaped Ohio’s history, culture and economy and how ongoing changes in the coal industry will impact Ohio communities moving forward.

The project team is collecting historical and archival information and data about coal production. It is also conducting interviews with community leaders and residents in targeted Ohio communities about the role coal mining, transportation and use has and will play in communities.

The team plans to produce reports and a project website, as well as theatrical and fine art products that tell the story of these coal communities. The confidential research is non-political and supportive to communities and participants. The Ohio State Office of Responsible Research Practices study number is 2020E1066.

“These communities have such a rich and complex history with the coal industry and face a number of challenges and opportunities moving forward” said project lead Jeffrey Jacquet in a press release. “This award from the sustainability institute will allow our team to spend quality time in these places and collect data and artifacts that can tell their stories.”

The team is currently focusing interviews in Belmont, Coshocton and Noble counties. If you were involved in the coal industry or impacted by the closures of Central Ohio Coal in Noble County or AEP coal-fired power plant closures in Coshocton or Belmont counties and would like to participate in the study, contact Gwynn Stewart at stewart.1818@osu.edu or 740-305-3177 or Katie Finneran at finneran.57@osu.edu or 419-788-8216. 

Additional information about the research project is available at energizeohio.osu.edu/fossil-energy-resources/ohio-coal-communities. More information about the Sustainability Institute at Ohio State is available at si.osu.edu.