Gov. Steve Beshear says Environmental Protection Agency policies are costing jobs and knocking Kentuckians out of "high-paying" jobs in the coal mining industry. Last year, he told the EPA, "Get off our backs" and even went as far as to sue the agency.
But thank goodness the EPA didn't listen to him. You'd think the governor would want clean air and water for all Kentuckians, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
Of course, the governor does not live in my neck of the woods. From my window on the world here in southeastern Kentucky, King Coal is still going full force. The politicians have had King Coal's back and continue to make our great state a "coal sanctuary" state. They've even declared this in the state legislature.
By the way, Beshear mentioned "high-paying" jobs. The only way this will ever happen again is for all coal miners to organize and become union miners like their fathers and grandfathers.
Beshear calls for President Barack Obama to "implement fair and reasonable policies for the coal-permitting process" because Kentucky "has experienced tremendous frustration over uncertainty and overreaching policies of the EPA."
I don't know how the governor and King Coal could have much of a gripe, considering the more than 60,000 Clean Water Act violations from just three coal companies.
I've got a gripe, and it's for the people who suffer each day with poisoned orange or black water running from their faucets. Or their drinking-water wells that burn with methane.
The people of our area have had enough, and the so-called "War on Coal" is only propaganda. King Coal's not under attack. It's the good folks who are trying to survive in the surface-mining areas who are being attacked.
These folks, too, "experience tremendous frustration over uncertainty" on a daily basis.
Beshear talks of creating coal-industry jobs. I'm all for this, but the only way this will happen, whether anyone will admit it or not, is to stop surface mining and mine coal using the underground method.
This will open up hundreds of new jobs immediately. But, if surface mining is allowed to continue, the coal jobs will be fewer and fewer each year.
Another myth is the ballyhoo about the benefits of flat surface-mined land. Flatten it, and industry will come. The truth is, less than 10 percent of the mined-out land has ever been used for anything; most looks as barren as the moon.
If surface mining were stopped, it might be the most "reasonable and pragmatic approach" to working with the EPA. Putting our unemployed miners back to work should bring sincere joy to everyone, especially Beshear, Obama and the Kentucky Coal Association.
But dreams rarely come true here. As long as the politicians are bought and paid for, sadly, things will probably stay the same.
Soon, the coal will be mined, the mountains gone, our water poisoned and our power bills so high that even coal won't be able to keep our lights on.
Then King Coal will just up and move to another location and commence to claim how great it is and buy more political backing.
Stanley Sturgill of Lynch is a retired coal miner and federal mine inspector.