Op-Ed

Sturgill: Lynch petitioners want to save environment, jobs

At issue | May 16 commentary by S. Scott Kegan, "Benham, Lynch pasts and futures rootedin coal mining"

I'm one of the people who filed the "lands unsuitable" petition for curtailing surface mining around Lynch and Benham.

In his commentary, former coal executive S. Ross Kegan failed to mention the petition makes sure underground mining was not compromised for this area. Underground mining could last for many years to come and provide many more jobs, but more surface mining would do away with the coal reserves in just a few months and then there would be no mining jobs.

Kegan says many commentators on this issue hail from other areas of Kentucky. Not me. I was born and raised in the area and hope to be laid to rest there. I've got a vested, personal interest in our area. Even though Kegan worked here briefly, he hails from Virginia.

Kegan made reference to statements by coal buyers from Norway about the reference to "historic Lynch," saying "Apparently, 'historic' is a matter of opinion." This, of course, was based on the 1,000-year anniversary of Oslo, Norway.

Compared to Oslo, our towns — or even our nation — are in their infancy. But this is where people from other areas, such as Kegan and coal buyers from Norway, miss the point. They don't care that we want to preserve our historic towns and our surrounding beautiful Black Mountain or the pristine water source, the Looney Creek and its contributing streams.

Scientists say our mountains and water are millions of years old. Probably Oslo would not even be considered comparable to the age of our mountains. The Appalachian Mountains, including Black Mountain, are about as "historic" as the Earth itself.

Yes, there has been surface mining all around Benham and Lynch. But anyone who has seen the results of surface mining would know why we would like to stop it. The towns may benefit from a few meager severance tax dollars, but historically we are, and still continue to be, at the bottom of this money list. Is it any wonder why we would like to get tourism dollars started to our area?

Our land gets nothing but raped, pillaged and destroyed from the timber, natural gas and oil businesses which have little or no regulations for the land. The gas companies will not even sell to us, sending it to other states. It would seem they are saying "the hell with southeastern Kentucky folks."

I enjoy traveling to Lexington every so often to look at Bluegrass farms and the paved areas, buildings, restaurants, etc. But I enjoy doing this for one reason only. It reaffirms my feelings of how wonderful our beautiful mountains are and how truly blessed I am to live in southeastern Kentucky. We want our mountains declared "lands unsuitable" so we can keep our futures rooted in underground coal mining.

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