During a 40-minute speech at the Embassy Suites hotel, Leer said that the international treaty to combat global climate change and the West Virginia "anti-mining movement" among environmentalists threaten potential coal industry growth.
Cheaper coal from giant surface mines in Wyoming's Powder River Basin - where Arch Coal is also a major producer - means that any increase in Central Appalachian mining costs is a danger.
"It's a battle, and when we change the economics in the East, we help that western coal," Leer said.
Leer said efforts by regulators and environmentalists to curb mountaintop removal are a particular threat.
"Many viewed it as an Arch fight," Leer said. "I don't view it as an Arch fight. I think it has much larger implications."
Also Tuesday, the U.S. Office of Surface Mining said it would send two teams of OSM employees to help the state Division of Environmental Protection speed up improvements in its mining permit processing.
OSM Director Kathy Karpan and DEP Director Michael Miano held a news conference in Morgantown to announce the two agencies would work together to clear up a backlog of 38 permit applications.
"We have to recognize that we cannot turn a regulatory battleship on a dime, but we have now accomplished turning the battleship around, and we are now committed to moving forward," Karpan said.
Sen. Robert C. Byrd and Rep. Nick Rahall, both D-W.Va., have been pressuring regulators to work faster to improve and coordinate the permitting process.