Calling it a “Coal Miners Appreciation Day,” Perry County Clerk Haven King said this year’s event will serve a dual purpose to both support coal miners, but also rally against what he says are attacks on the coal industry by the federal government.
King noted the difficulty coal companies have had in obtaining operational permits for mines, and said that trouble comes from new regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“It’s real important that we get some people in there for this (rally), because we’re disappointed in what the EPA is doing,” said King, who also directs the pro-coal group Coal Mining Our Future, a sponsor of this year’s rally.
A recent guideline issued by the EPA in April imposes water quality standards that King said very few companies – both surface and underground – will be able to meet. Under this new standard, coal companies must keep water conductivity (a measure of dissolved solids) downstream from mine sites to a certain level – between 300 or 500 microsiemens. That’s a level King said is unreasonable, and pointed to his own tap water as evidence, which he said measures at about 700 microsiemens, but is safe to drink.
“With the conductivity issue, there’s no way that surface or underground could comply with that,” said King. “It’s unreasonable.”
This particular regulation, he argued, will lead to job loss in the region by way of decreased mining permits, and those losses won’t be limited to the coal industry.
“Whenever you lose jobs, you lose those jobs [in the industry], but you also lose the guys that haul the coal, you lose the guys that sell the tires and engines,” King argued.
This year’s rally will be held on Saturday, August 14 at the Sportsplex, located on Ky. 80 between Hindman and the Floyd County line. Also included will be a performance by recording artist Stella Parton, a cornhole tournament and an appearance by former University of Kentucky basketball player Jeff Shepherd. The rally will begin at 11 a.m. with activities lasting through 4 p.m.
“We expect to have a good crowd,” King said, adding that improvements have been made from last year’s event, including the parking. “We expect to have a lot of things for people to do.”