Since January, thousands of coal miners have been laid off in Central Appalachia. We’ve heard a lot of opinions about the causes of this decline and what the future holds - from industry leaders, elected officials and even the presidential candidates. But what do those who mined the coal have to say? Letcher County underground miner Gary Bentley lost his job with Arch Coal in June. WMMT's Mimi Pickering and Sylvia Ryerson sat down with Bentley for this interview just hours before he left home for a new mining job in western Kentucky.
It's been hard to escape the narrative of the coal miner over the last year. President Trump talks a lot about putting coal miners back to work, and he's rolled back Obama-era regulations aimed at doing just that.
But setting narratives aside, the numbers show coal is declining. Natural gas is cheaper to use to make electricity. And many of the people who have done this work don't see much of a future for themselves in coal.
In this week's episode of Inside Appalachia, we hear about what it’s like to actually work in a coal mine. So often we hear about miners from environmentalists or people who proudly declare they are Friends of Coal. But so much about what we hear about coal mining these days is full of political agendas.
Gary Bentley spent 12 years as an underground coal miner in Kentucky before he left the industry in 2013. He started writing about his experiences recently in an effort to combat stereotypes about coal miners he sees in the media and popular culture.
In one of its first acts, the Republican-controlled Congress overturned the Department of the Interior’s recent Stream Protection Rule. Coal companies are thrilled about the change, but some mining communities aren't quite so sure about it.