Osborne has been traveling from county to county within the state meeting with county officials, local legislators, and people interested in the regional impact of coal.
Mayor Hickman wasn’t available for the meeting. Osborne said he did get the opportunity to speak with Pineville Mayor Sherwin Rader.
Osborne explained that FACES of Coal is an organization of determined people who are uniting to educate lawmakers, as well as the general public, about the significance of coal mining in terms of local and national economies. He said that the mission of FACES of Coal is to campaign for the economic prosperity coal provides through good jobs and affordable energy.
Supporters of the FACES of Coal alliance — composed of individuals from Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia — also believe in protecting the nation’s security, promoting self-reliance, preserving the environment, and economically strengthening local communities, all through the use of coal.
“We are trying to get organized and push back a little bit on those people who are opposed to coal economy,” said Osborne. “It’s basically just developing grassroots organization with people that rely on the coal industry, and depend on the coal economy.”
Osborne said that last week the Kentucky Corps of Engineers had a public hearing in the city of Pikeville, Ky., concerning regulated surface mining permits. He said that nearly 5,000 people turned out in support of the coal industry. He said that many citizens questioned the permitting process and focused on the future of the coal mining industry.
“That’s the type of support we need,” stated Osborne.
He also suggested that people need to start closely monitoring the price of gasoline, and to consistently observe the price of crude oil.
“If they (government) suppress coal production, then that is just a license to steal for the oil companies,” Osborne explained. “Another issue is that the Environmental Protection Agency has put 79 surface mining permits under enhanced review and have yet to determine what that means, and have yet to decide what the timetable is to get it approved.”
Osborne then shifted his sights back to the FACES of Coal mission.
“We are trying to get people organized to contact the Congressional Delegation in support of our mission,” said Osborne. “We have been trying to help with the permitting issue, and trying to get signatures on petitions, and distribute letters to the media... just to turn up the noise a little bit.”
Osborne concluded that 80 percent of the coal mined in Kentucky is shipped to other states, and that it not only affects the economies of Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, and Georgia but also the national economy.
“It’s more than ‘let’s just shut down mining in Kentucky’... it has a lot of ripples to it,” said Osborne. “We are talking about tens of thousands of jobs that are basically at risk if coal is not allowed to be produced in a timely and safe manner.”
Adam Young is a Staff Writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.