Tags: miners | kentucky | epa | coal | regulations

Kentucky Miners Hit Hard by Obama Regulations

Image: Kentucky Miners Hit Hard by Obama Regulations Abandoned coal company structures in Lynch, Kentucky.

By Lisa Barron   |   Wednesday, 27 Nov 2013 09:57 AM

On the day before Thanksgiving in 2012, 46-year-old coal miner Paul Swanson of Cawood, Ky., lost his job at a mine where he had been required for years to work on his knees. Unemployed ever since, today he can’t afford even a telephone.

Swanson comes from just one of the 26 counties in Kentucky’s eastern coalfields that has seen a rapid decline in jobs since 2011, leaving the region, whose residents have relied heavily on coal for their livelihood, with fewer miners than at any other time since the 1920s, reports The Wall Street Journal.

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Nearly all of the more than two dozen unemployed miners there who spoke with the newspaper blamed President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency for their plight.

"Obama’s starving us out. He ain’t got a clue," said Swanson.

Swanson and the others pointed to EPA regulations that tighten emissions rules for coal-burning power plants, which have been described by critics as a "war on coal."

"We’re in a structural shift as a result of the regulatory environment," Kevin Crutchfield, chief executive of Alpha Natural Resources, told the Journal. "I don’t think the scale would be nearly as great without increased regulations."

For those like 50-year-old William Hensley, who was laid off from his mining job in Harlan, Ky., at the beginning of this year, life has forever changed.

Soon after being laid off, Hensley was diagnosed with black-lung disease, but he no longer can afford health insurance. Then he lost his Chevy truck and is now living on the remaining $5,000 he had in a retirement plan.

"This is the worst I’ve ever seen it," Hensley, who spent 32 years in the coal mines, told the Journal.

Last month, thousands of Kentucky miners and their families, along with lawmakers and union leaders, descended on the U.S. Capitol to protest Obama’s policies making it harder to burn or mine coal, reported The Daily Caller.

"The figure that really matters is the number of innocent people caught up in the Obama administration’s war on coal," Kentucky Republican Rep. Andy Barr said in a speech.

"I don’t care if you're a Democrat or Republican," he said. "It is fundamentally wrong, it is fundamentally immoral, it is downright outrageous that the federal government would put the American, hardworking family in economic distress."

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