By Associated Press - Monday, February 1, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Coal production in Kentucky has slumped to its lowest level since the 1950s after declining nearly 21 percent in 2015.

A report released Monday by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet says production fell to 61 million tons last year, compared to 77 million tons in the previous year. The 2015 total was the lowest in Kentucky since 1954.

The coal industry throughout the U.S. has been hit hard by oversupply, competition from natural gas and tougher environmental regulations. Production in the Appalachian area of eastern Kentucky fell by 25 percent in the last quarter of 2015.

Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett says in a release the state numbers were “worse than expected.” The coal association says neighboring West Virginia saw a production drop of nearly 16 percent in 2015.

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