Thursday, February 20, 2014


North Carolina is presently in the news for coal ash pollution of major watersheds.   It is one thing to watch the story evolve from afar and marvel at the what seems like an obvious connection between the state government and the coal industry; but for the people of the rural Appalachians this is just business as usual. 

Being an old Kentucky boy, I understand the connection between coal and the people.   Coal has been a major part of life for the people of Appalachia and for the economy of the state.   Those not familiar should understand that a young man can graduate (or drop out) from high school and step into a fifty-thousand dollar a year job in the mines.  Miners understand that companies like Peabody Cole provide their standard of living and without the mines they (the miners) are not trained or qualified for comparable salaried jobs – jobs that do not even exist in the rural areas where they live.

Appalachian miners are proud people and their roots run deep in the mountain culture.   Most miners have followed the tradition of their fathers, grand-fathers and great grand-fathers in the mines; and as distasteful and dangerous as coal mining may be, to the people of Appalachian West Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina it is their culture and they are willing to overlook ecological dangers and safety shortcomings – and by protecting the mines they are protecting their culture and way of life. 

Some of these rural communities can appear rough to outsiders and the law often turns a blind eye to minor law-breaking; but when you are speaking of a coal mining community you’ve got to ask yourself ‘Who's the outlaw?’

the Ol’Buzzard


  1. All of my relatives down around Providence and Madisonville worked in the mines for Peabody Coal - all had black lung and "Red" was trapped for almost a day in a cave in down by Sturgis. GrandDad's brother Frank told me never to go work in the mines. Go back down there some day and visit the area around Central City - OB, it is ugly...

    Having stated that; I understand all to well the lure of the mines and Kentucky's relationship with coal.

    Good post!


  2. It's not just those that are born and raised in the area. I know a guy from my hometown that moved to West Virginia and got a job in a coal mine (either open pit or mountain top removal) was all gungho because that's where his money came from. He started working for an iron mine here locally and after getting laid off there went out west and worked various jobs out there including mining before getting the job in WV. He was all about "We're keeping your lights on!!"

  3. I like the music...what a great cross cultural mash up...bluegrass hip/hop!
    Thank you again!

  4. Just found out yesterday that the governor of North Carolina worked for Duke Energy for almost 30 years before becoming governor. He's doing everything he can to make sure Duke doesn't have to pay to clean up their messes!!

    1. K,
      Duke has more coal fired plants in the Ohio River valley than any place in the nation - and they want to build a coal gasification plant over in Rockport while the Wabash River basin has an abundance of natural gas.
      Fuck Duke Energy...



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