Coal Miner Discusses Mining Layoffs, Challenges Facing Eastern Kentucky

The newest installment of WMMT radio’s Making Connections series features something that’s often missing from the conversation about coal in eastern Kentucky: a coal miner telling his story and talking  about how the industry’s decline is affecting him and his community.

WMMT interviewed Letcher County underground miner Gary Bentley. He was laid off from an Arch Coal mine in June, and recently found a new mining job. But it’s in Owensboro. So, he travels there for work, returning home to Letcher County to see his daughter and girlfriend when he can.

Bentley’s interview is worth a listen. He talks about the challenges finding work in the area, and doesn’t seem to have any illusions as to the economic reasons behind his layoff. But Bentley is angry that politicians haven’t acted to help the region survive.

“I feel that political leaders and others have really failed us by not having a backup plan for the area and the people in the community,” he said. “I mean, the price of natural gas is the biggest player in this. Natural gas destroyed the coal industry as far as the market goes, on the price.”

You can listen to the whole piece here.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

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