A Sad Day Spent in the Eastern KY Coal Region

A sad day spent in the eastern KY coal region

PostBy: Ky Speedracer On: Wed Dec 16, 2015 1:26 pm

Monday I drove almost 4 hours from Louisville to the Hazard, Whitesburg and Pikeville KY area. This is far eastern KY on the Virginia border. Central Appalachia. The heart of premium (low-sulfur) bituminous coal country.
It is very rural but beautiful country. Unfortunately it is now littered with closed coal mines and mines running at maybe 10 to 15 percent capacity.
To be fair the population in general is not highly educated. However there is high skill set for different trades. Plumbers, electricians, mechanial/HVAC, etc.
Lots of truck drivers and large industry for rail/trains. The people are very down to earth and humble. As we say in Kentucky "they're good people".
Unfortunately this entire region has been and still is almost entirely tied to the coal industry...there is really nothing else to support the economy. And as we all know, the coal industry is in an almost catastrophic downward spiral...
The state of Kentucky's entire population is only a tad over 4 milion. Two thirds of that population is the area around Louisville, Lexington and the northern area that is a suburb of Cincinnati. This region, while relatively large in square miles, only has an approximate population of 60,000 to 70,000 people. In the past 5 years there have been more than 10,000 mining layoffs... That's right, 10,000! That does not include the trickle down jobs/economics. For example, in October CSX laid off 200 more folks in Corbin, KY form a maintenance facility. That facilities primary focus was coal cars.
The cities and services are suffering. No payroll...no payroll taxes...no revenue to support police, fire, ems, etc.
Obviously the primary culprits of the decline in this industry are Cap & Trade and the recent Obama mandates directed to the EPA. One of more interesting things that I learned (maybe many of you knew this. I did not) is that because the remaining coal fired plants still operating have been required to add scrubbers for emissions, they can now burn much cheaper high-sulfur content coal from far western KY southern Illinois and other areas.
My real point of this is not to debate the politics of the EPA and what is good for the environment, that just is what it is for now. It is to shed some light on what, in my opinion, could potentially be the extinction of a culture...a way of life. These folks have been pretty resilient historically. Coal production has had it's ebbs and flows for decades. This is different.
Economically this region has always had bouts with poverty, that's nothing new. But there have been long periods when things have been very good.
This region has some serious challenges to overcome to attract a new economic driver. The roads are not awful but certainly there are no interstates going in and out. No real airports to speak of. As I mentioned, educationally challenged. Personal healthcare is not a priority so consequently obesity is pretty commonplace. Drugs, primarily meth have taken a pretty strong foot hold...primarily as a result of the current depressed economic sitch (It's not a coincidence that the FX show "Justified" used this region as the backdrop for the show).
I don't know what the future holds for these folks. These are salt of the earth good folks. For the most part people of faith. Content to support themselves and their families. I really don't know how they are going to be able to do that... It doesn't look good as of now.

Sorry for such a depressing thread post. Put driving into that region and working with some of these folks was a real eye opener.

If anyone is interested here is an article from a couple of years ago that kind of sums up eastern Ky and the coal industry with data;
http://wfpl.org/hollowed-mountains-now- ... -kentucky/
http://wfpl.org/more-data-behind-declin ... -industry/
Ky Speedracer
 
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Re: A sad day spent in the eastern KY coal region

PostBy: freetown fred On: Wed Dec 16, 2015 1:33 pm

Not really much to comment on there KS other then YES it's real sad.
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Re: A sad day spent in the eastern KY coal region

PostBy: samhill On: Wed Dec 16, 2015 4:51 pm

Sad indeed, everything has a ripple effect. The demise of American steel that used massive amounts of coal for coke in the blast furnaces, the auto industry which not long ago made around 80% of all the cars in the world. All the big industries had support industries most of which either couldn't or wouldn't diversify fast enough to save themselves. With job loss comes the loss of self esteem & worth just a downhill spiral that few in Govt. or business care about.
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Re: A sad day spent in the eastern KY coal region

PostBy: Flyer5 On: Fri Feb 19, 2016 7:32 pm

I just saw this post today. This is a sad story that unfortunately is growing into many industries. Look what happened to the dress and textile industries. Like Sam stated about the steel and auto industry. Look what happened to the foundries. The EPA is responsible for much of this. It doesn't fix problems it just moves the problems to other countries who's air makes it back here anyway. The overreach of government is incredible. This is why I understand the ranchers out west that are being displaced because they will not pay off the mafia in govt clothing. They just want to be left alone to survive on their own. I was down in western PA and W. Virginia a few years ago and saw many towns that you can see were thriving back in the day. Education does not equal smart for sure. When I first started at a Major big time Manufacturing company years ago you can see the farmers touch on so much of the process. It worked well. It worked efficiently. Then the younger newer management stopped listening to the farmers thinking they are less educated, How could they know more than a highly educated engineer. Overtime you could see the common sense disappear. The same is happening in Government. I would much rather a bunch of life educated farmers run this nation than a bunch of educated lawyers.
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Re: A sad day spent in the eastern KY coal region

PostBy: PJT On: Fri Feb 19, 2016 10:37 pm

Flyer5 wrote:I would much rather a bunch of life educated farmers run this nation than a bunch of educated lawyers.


Brilliantly said :!: I couldnt agree more :!: :!: :!:
PJT
 
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Re: A sad day spent in the eastern KY coal region

PostBy: coalnewbie On: Sat Feb 20, 2016 8:42 am

This reminds me of my trip to the Pittsburgh Iron and Steel museum which in turn minds me of Birmingham England the heart of the old iron and steel industry. The point is PIttsburgh turned itself around and invited biotech industry in and did something else. Once the liberal children have been voted out and and entrepreneurship is allowed to surface again perhaps this area can do something else with itself.
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Re: A sad day spent in the eastern KY coal region

PostBy: Ky Speedracer On: Sat Feb 20, 2016 6:39 pm

We just elected a republican governor in KY that took office at the first of the year. He seems to be a pretty sharp dude. He was a successful businessman...not a politician. Republican governors are a rare thing here. Most of the state is very conservative (.i.e Mitch Mcconell and Rand Paul). We are always red on presidential elections too. But Louisville and Lexington are very liberal and unions were heavy throuout the state so we always seemed to have dem governors.
The last governor was a Obama yes man. Ky was the standard bearer for Obama care. We had KYnect system that Obama trumpeted as the biggest success in the nation.
Well between that and our enormous state pension plans KY is almost bankrupt.
The gov has immeadiatly started the process of dismantling KYnect and several other things to try to get our deficit under some kind of control.
He is also getting rid of a lot of the appointed academic idiots with no hands on experience that run different cabinets and offices in the state and replacing them with experience business people.
He's appointed a well respected coal industry business person from eastern KY to run the cabinet of energy and resources.
It may be to late for coal but maybe he can get things headed the right direction and find a new industry of some kind to help out in that part of the state.
Fingers crossed!
Ky Speedracer
 
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Re: A sad day spent in the eastern KY coal region

PostBy: coalnewbie On: Sat Feb 20, 2016 7:22 pm

So at last the socialists have run out of other peoples money. KY needs to look eg other models. e.g. when the furniture business went from NC to China, they formed Research Triangle Park in the Raleigh Durham area and turned the whole area around. So KY is cleaning out the left wing and that is a start. As the democrats have caused so much pain to so many people I think round them up, give them knives and forks and get them to restore the roads 14 hours a day for three square meals a day. Now with lower taxes and overheads the furniture business is coming back. Good luck to all, I enjoyed my time at UK at Lexington a beautiful part of the world.
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Re: A sad day spent in the eastern KY coal region

PostBy: Ky Speedracer On: Sat Feb 20, 2016 7:31 pm

Lexington is beautiful right.
Horses, bourbon and basketball!
Ky Speedracer
 
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Re: A sad day spent in the eastern KY coal region

PostBy: coalnewbie On: Sat Feb 20, 2016 7:43 pm

I don't give a rats a$$ about basketball but the other two are great and the women were always drunk and totally crazy. I was actually getting into blue grass music which only goes to prove bourbon rots the brain. Very famous people came from Memphis like William Sherrick and supposedly there were others but who cares. Yes, I rode horses at Calumet farm

https://www.google.com/maps/uv?hl=en&pb ... kQoioIcjAK

and the blue grass is unique. The $32 MM the UAE ruling Maktoum family paid for the blood line was a surprise. Happy times. Negatives, red clay .......
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Re: A sad day spent in the eastern KY coal region

PostBy: davidmcbeth3 On: Sat Feb 20, 2016 9:00 pm

I did not find the story depressing. The coal business was a major business I guess. Coal is a commodity ... its demand will go up and down and so will the $$$ that can be made from it.

Nobody's fault.

Maybe they should have also focused on manufacturing chewing tobacco to like their other West Va neighbors. Drirving through and visiting this region is fun. Just don't say you work for the IRS or ATF LOL..
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Re: A sad day spent in the eastern KY coal region

PostBy: coalnewbie On: Sat Feb 20, 2016 9:58 pm

YES, IT IS THE 100% FAULT OF Obumer. Once you make the decision to decimate a US based industry when the sequelae would be obvious if your head is not up your a$$ worrying about the well being of terrorists racing across the border. So again I say it's his fault and he did zero to deflect this shock. That is the trouble with voting for commies with no life experience.
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Re: A sad day spent in the eastern KY coal region

PostBy: samhill On: Sun Feb 21, 2016 9:09 am

CNB, just how long has Obama been POTUS, most of our industries have been long gone for decades. There are so few now that it makes headlines when they want to bail & also once a few make their way back. The Steel Industry was decimated in the 80s, some others before & many others shortly after & it's been a pretty steady exodus for a long time. Repugs always have to simplify things, I wonder why?
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Re: A sad day spent in the eastern KY coal region

PostBy: Flyer5 On: Sun Feb 21, 2016 9:34 am

A governor that has the lefty's in a scurry and trying to get him ousted because he is ruining their destructive socialist programs. This thread warms my heart. :clap:
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Re: A sad day spent in the eastern KY coal region

PostBy: corey On: Wed Mar 09, 2016 4:18 pm

If you drove to Pikeville I'm just cross the state line. I grew up in a coal mining family and county. Sure is sad how things went down hill. Things are just shutting down now days..
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