By Stanley Sturgill
I live at the foot of Kentucky’s highest peak, Black Mountain, in Harlan County. I am retired with 41 years service to the mining industry. My wife and I have lived in Harlan County most of our lives. We have raised our family here, and we want to continue to remain here.
And I want to see my grandkids grow up here and find meaningful work and get as much joy and comfort from this beautiful part of Kentucky as I have.
That’s why I’ll be attending I Love Mountains Day.
I made my living as a coal miner and federal coal mine inspector, but I know that is not the future for my grandkids. However, I do believe there is a future for them here if we are allowed to be successful in bringing much needed new jobs to our area.
But first we have to stop the destruction that’s going on right now.
Surface mining and especially mountaintop removal are quickly destroying our mountains and drinking water. They are not responsible ways of mining. Strip mining and mountaintop removal are done in order for the coal operator to mine the most coal in the shortest possible time with the least possible number of workers.
And it also brings the most destruction to our land, water, and health. It’s just not right that a coal company could have the backing of state legislators and the governor to allow the annihilation of the mountains and water. Once our mountains are gone and our water is poisoned, there will be nothing left.
The governor wants to hide behind the claim that this is about jobs, but people know that strip mining and mountaintop removal do away with jobs. If the governor wants to put a shot in the arm of our economy, then he needs to wake up and stop the surface mining that not only hurts our chances to create a new energy economy, but that actually does harm to our health, our economy, and drains resources from the state budget.
Right now, with legislation that’s before them, the Kentucky General Assembly has a great opportunity to invest in programs and policies that will lead to thousands of new jobs for Kentuckians, especially coal miners. We could pass legislation and promote cooperation—as many other states have already done—that are proven successful for spurring job creation, helping grow new businesses, and providing brighter prospects for the younger generations.
Even though I am now retired, I depend on the mountains even more—the streams for my drinking water, the trees for holding our beloved mountains in place and helping to replenish our environment with wonderful mountain fresh air, and their beauty to uplift me each day. I pray generations to come will be able to enjoy the same peace I am presently anointed with.
That’s why I’m asking North of Center readers to join me and hundreds of other Kentuckians to take a stand—for our mountains, our water, our kids, our future—at I Love Mountains Day.
I Love Mountains Day takes place on Tuesday, February 14. You are asked to gather on the front steps of the State Capitol in Frankfort at 12 noon for a 12:30 P.M. march and rally. To learn more and register, go to www.kftc.org/love