Supporters of the Environmental Protection Agency claim that “If the EPA were to back off, it would not create a single new job. It would not allow East Kentucky to sell a chunk more of coal. But it would give a greater advantage to the most irresponsible operators in the state.”
Where exactly do these environmentalists get their “facts” from? There can be little doubt that EPA regulations are preventing coal mines from opening up shop and putting Kentuckians to work.
But for the sake of argument, let’s assume what they say is true. Even if deregulation did not result in the creation of a single new coal-mining job, at least mines wouldn’t be forced to lay off hard-working Kentuckians due to job-killing regulations.
Opponents of the coal mining industry like to point to the fact that coal mining only accounts for 1 percent of all jobs in Kentucky. This is a very true – but deceptive – fact.
That 1-percent number fails to explain the geography of coal employment. Coal mines are mostly located in the Appalachian Mountains area, where more than 10 percent of total employment and 30 percent of overall wages earned comes from coal mining jobs.
It’s also the sad truth that in those very same counties, the average poverty rate is more than twice the national average. Yet coal miners in those communities earn an average salary of $61,000.
For those communities where coal plays a vital economic role, mining jobs offer a stable income and a comfortable lifestyle. If the environmentalists and the EPA continue to wage war on coal, unemployment will drastically increase unemployment and kill good jobs in these economically vulnerable areas.
The greens claim that it’s all part of their agenda to help out Kentuckians by making the commonwealth a better place to live in. Call me crazy, but I don’t think taking away people’s jobs and throwing them into poverty is a good way to help someone out.