Coal mining beneficial to Kentucky

The fact that Wesley Yonts’s Sept. 4 column “New surface mining legislation brings more destruction to landscape” was published in the Kernel amazes me. It is filled with inaccuracies and written by someone who obviously has no reasonable judgment on coal mining, or any sense to look for details to support a valid claim. This column is just one more on the list of someone writing about coal mining and all of the negative effects it has on the region.

First of all, mountaintop removal creates useful land.  Several developers are interested in utilizing the only flat ground in eastern Kentucky, and many already have. This land is used not only for residential and commercial purposes, but also to provide safe areas to place airports and to construct ATV trails that generate tourism opportunities.

In addition, the land is used to provide suitable places for timber farms, an operation that can be reutilized time and time again, and also for recreational parks that service neighboring communities.  In an area as steep as eastern Kentucky, this type of land is rare.

By mining the coal and reshaping the land, it is now feasible to produce a plot of land satisfactory for supporting large factories and other forms of economic development. How can you consider this any different than the development going on here in your “own back yard” consuming the bluegrass in its entirety?

It is not impossible to restore land to its approximate original contour, and this is done in most forms of surface mining. It may not be done in mountaintop removal, but this form provides more efficient alternatives.

In fact, many of the mining companies are or have been conducting research to place wind turbines on the reclaimed property to aid in an alternate form of energy. Isn’t that ironic, as Yonts pointed out? The companies who “destroy” the mountains are attempting to develop land in ways that will work against their main form of income.

Coal is one of the largest industries in the state, which translates into tax dollars. Most of this money doesn’t end up the counties where the coal was mined. Instead, it builds infrastructure for the remainder of the state.

At least by allowing surface mines to provide flat land, we may be able to assure some sort of economic stability once the coal reserves have been depleted. Having been raised in rural eastern Kentucky, I could not imagine someone attempting to trade off an industry that supports a region for an alternative destined for poverty.

Eastern Kentucky is my home. I was raised in a coal mining family and, I am proud of the work my family members have done.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but for one to try and alter others’ viewpoints by manipulating facts is beyond me.

Josh Phillips

UK Alum