There are still plenty of coal-related jobs in Appalachia, but they won’t be found underground.
They are at the pulmonary clinic in Pikeville and ash pits next to East Kentucky Power Cooperative plants, and in reclamation of abandoned strip mines, planting pollinator habitat on barren lands and training Kentuckians to provide new energy opportunities for our future.
Are we complicit in exploitation of coal miners? Just because the mining company they worked for sidestepped its promise of retirement and health-care benefits to workers it profited from doesn’t let us off the hook, for we are the true beneficiaries of miners’ labor. They gave their lives and health for our benefit. Every guardrail post has a miner’s breath in its steel, and you hear an echo as you drive your car down a winding road late at night; just roll down your windows and listen.
We must pass the RECLAIM Act and protect the mine workers’ pensions. We must restore the hills to productive, healthy land, and restore communities through education and rewarding work.
The most effective way is to tax fossil fuels. The promise to the coal miner was made in our name. We must pay the true cost of coal.