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This letter is a response to an April 9 column titled “Coal industry vital to UK, commonwealth.”
As Mr. Phipp’s correctly acknowledged, Kentucky is currently dependent on coal. This relationship has been quite destructive to the local and global environment, as one simply needs to see the iconic images of a mountaintop removal “restoration” site to understand.
However, Mr. Phipp is not correct in his assessment of job figures related to coal in Kentucky. According to a 2006 report by the Mountain Association of Community and Economic Development, in 2004 only 13,000 jobs were direct coal mining jobs in Eastern Kentucky.
This number has continued to dramatically decrease as coal companies continue to choose profits over people with their increased mechanization of the industry.
It goes without question that at one time the economy of Kentucky was dependent on the industry, but according to the same report, less than 1 percent of the jobs in Kentucky were directly a result of the coal industry.
These figures are quite remarkable to those who are accustomed to the coal industry rhetoric describing the importance of mining in our great state.
In a report published in 2011 by Harvard professor Paul Epstein, the coal industry actually cost the U.S. $500 billion.
Beyond health problems, add the cost of coal’s effect on land use, energy consumption and food prices, plus the cost of toxic waste spills and cleanup. This figure shows how detrimental this industry truly is.
Coal is a finite resource and we need to start moving to alternative sources to help future generations make an easier, quicker transition.
Many studies have proven that geothermal is viable in Kentucky, and the university administration is pursuing this option in their new dormitories.
Kentucky actually has a higher solar potential than Germany and it is the highest solar producing country in the world. There are regions of Eastern Kentucky where wind is a viable resource.
Some might like to call our incessant pleas idealistic, but the overwhelming scientific research would not only call it realistic, but mandatory if we want our children to lead happy, healthy lives.
Please be creative in your critical thought about this issue and understand that industry and corporate rhetoric is meant to do one thing: blind the public from the truth to increase profits.
Elaine Alvey is a political science senior. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.