A Harlan radio host called for a boycott of Lexington businesses to put pressure on the Herald-Leader and Gov. Steve Beshear to be more vocal in defending the coal-based economy of the mountains.
Randy Walters, host on WTUK-105.3 FM, talked with Phil Osborne, a Lexington marketing executive and the director of the FACES of Coal Kentucky initiative, and Commerce Lexington chief Bob Quick on the air Wednesday afternoon.
"It's time to draw a line in the sand. They are trying to choke us out," Walters said, referring to tightening federal regulations and increased environmental criticism of coal, as well as editorials and news articles by the Herald-Leader.
"You can't substitute one economy for another," Osborne said, adding that a state study has shown that solar and wind power is not a viable replacement for the electricity-generating power of coal. More than 90 percent of the power generated in the state comes from coal.
Quick pointed to a Commerce Lexington trip that brought 65 Central Kentuckians to the mountains three weeks ago. Business and community leaders said their eyes were opened to the importance of coal in the region's economy and the potential for redevelopment of surface mine sites.
The Herald-Leader recently printed a series about surface-mine redevelopment. Less than 3 percent of surface-mined land in Eastern Kentucky was planned to be redeveloped, one of those stories found.
Central Kentuckians understand that their economy, particularly industries that need cheap electricity, benefits from coal in Eastern Kentucky, Quick said.
"What's drowning it out is those that buy ink by the barrel," Quick said.
Walters said in an interview with the Herald-Leader after the show that the newspaper is "smacking us in the face" when it runs news articles or editorials saying negative things about coal. He said the coverage of the Wildcat Coal Lodge name change at the University of Kentucky is an example.
"It's hard not to be angry" in Eastern Kentucky, he said.