coal jobs

Austin Ramsey, WKMS

Coal jobs in Kentucky declined sharply in the first quarter of this year, according to the state’s latest quarterly coal report.

Austin Ramsey, WKMS

As Kentucky's overall unemployment rate continues to fall, employment in the coal mining industry is somewhat stagnant. The state's jobless rate for February came in at 5.2 percent, the lowest since the fall of 2004. 

Frankie Steele/Louisville Public Media

 

For the first time in about a century, no union coal miners are working in Kentucky. The state’s few remaining union miners were laid off New Year’s Eve when Patriot Coal’s Highland Mine in Western Kentucky shut down, the United Mine Workers of America confirmed.

“Appalachia was always a really tough nut for the union to crack, and I think maybe Kentucky was the toughest nut of all,” said labor historian James Green, author of a new book about West Virginia’s mine wars.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says proposed federal regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants provide the state with some “flexibility” in meeting government targets.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced this month that the nation must reduce carbon emissions created by burning coal by 30 percent.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says his Saving Coal Jobs Act must be passed, in order to ease U.S. Environmental Protection Agency restrictions that he says are stifling the industry.

The five-term Republican said the number of Kentucky coal miners has decreased from 18,600 to 13,000 in the years since President Barack Obama took office.