By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The “War on Coal” took another detrimental turn this week, as James River Coal Company announced the layoff of more than 500 employees.
James River Coal Company, whose offices are based in London, went public with the layoffs on Tuesday, stating 525 coal miner jobs would be cut due to low production. The employees affected work in Pike, Floyd, Leslie, Harlan and Laurel counties.
Federal officials representing Kentucky were furious over the continued “War on Coal,” realizing those job losses will also affect the individual communities negatively. Many of the small towns in those regions of southeastern and eastern Kentucky rely solely on the commerce generated by the coal mining industry.
U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) released the following statement about coal mining layoffs in southern and eastern Kentucky, including the James River Coal Company’s announcement of 525 furloughed full-time employees in our region.
“There is no other way to say it; in two years, President Obama’s “War on Coal” has resulted in 6,200 jobless Americans in the eastern Kentucky coal fields and untold thousands more in mining support businesses,” Rogers said in a statement released on Tuesday afternoon. ”It is a downright dire and disastrous situation in our coal counties, yet the President is taking credit for a recovery! Deliberate anti-coal energy policies are sending thousands of families in my region to the unemployment line. I’ve talked to out of work miners struggling to put food on the table, find replacement work, and pay their bills.
“The EPA’s regulatory overreach that has bypassed the Congress and been soundly rejected by the courts, now seeks to end new coal generation while closing down existing plants,” Rogers continued. “Mr. President, it’s time to stop this war on coal. Coal keeps the lights on!”
U.S. Senator Rand Paul also responded to the closures of Kentucky mines.
“President Obama and his Administration have declared a war on coal, and thus declared a war on Kentucky jobs and our economy. In the past few years, thousands of Kentucky coal miners have lost their jobs at the hands of an overzealous EPA. Now, another 525 Kentucky families are facing the same devastating news,” Sen. Paul said.
“Kentuckians are deeply frustrated and they have a right to be. Coal miners are worried about providing for their families, while all families are worried about a future devoid of abundant, affordable and reliable energy. I will continue to fight for Kentucky’s coal industry and for the jobs and livelihoods it provides. If President Obama attempts to kill coal jobs with new regulations, I will organize resistance in the Senate through the Congressional Review Act to stop him.”
Calls to James River Coal Company’s regional office based in Virginia were not returned.