West Kentucky Coal

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.

The Kentucky Senate has passed its version of the budget, and the state’s Energy and Environment Cabinet is warning it could have dire consequences for coal mine safety.

The Senate’s version of the budget cuts the amount of money the state’s Office of Mine Safety and Licensing to $2,643,200. That’s a 65 percent cut from the amount of money Governor Steve Beshear recommended in his budget, and a 50 percent cut from the House’s version of the bill.

In a statement, Energy and Environment Cabinet officials said the change would hurt the state’s coal industry.

A Western Kentucky coal miner is alleging several counts of workplace discrimination, after he reported safety problems at his job and was fired.

Debuting Sunday, September 1 at 9 am

The words "Kentucky Coal" often summon images of the blackened faces of miners emerging from the dark pits of the eastern mountains. In fact, coal mining in the Commonwealth began long before, in the Western Coal Fields of the 1820s. Ever since, from the first mines of McLean's Drift Bank in Muhlenberg County, to the massive operations beneath many western counties, coal has been a major part of our region's life, its politics, and its economy. 

Made possible with the underwriting support of Jennmar.

Now that Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has announced her intention to seek the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, the speculation about how Grimes will campaign against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—and on what issues—has begun.