My name is Rick Nelson and I represent the coal producing counties of Harlan and Bell, which are in Southeastern Kentucky.
I am proud to let you know that my dad worked in coal mines for over 30 years to support his family.
Today, mainly due to actions by the EPA in Washington D.C., thousands of mines and mining-related jobs have been lost. The inability of companies to get permits to mine new coal has forced our citizens to go from drawing a paycheck to the welfare rolls.
In addition, the closing of many coal-fired power plants because of EPA regulations will have disastrous results for employment and will cause massive increases in everyone’s electric bills.
Do you know what the number one pollutant of streams is in Kentucky? According to the Kentucky Division of Water, citing a 2007 report, it is not mining, but agricultural run-off, impacting almost 3,000 miles of streams. But I do not hear any local or EPA outrage like is heard over the mining of coal.
Economic development is apparently in the eye of the beholder. I noticed at Exit 87 on I-75 and at the Frankfort exit there used to be beautiful farm land that has been developed for malls and parking lots. The bringing in of dozers was hailed as progress for this area, but not for the coal fields.
Finally, my message to the EPA in Washington is: set our miners free, so they can make a living for their families and produced the energy for America.
Set our miners free!