"For more than 100 years, coal has been the backbone of the Appalachian economy." a.k.a. "Coal, Kentucky's Ace in the Hole". Change is undeniably happening in the coal industry. "Mountaintop removal mining" despite being a horrendous disaster, also requires fewer employees than traditional mining. Meanwhile the Central Appalachian coal seams that remain to be mined are becoming thinner and more costly to mine. (BTW an early indicator of "Peak Coal") "Let’s speak the truth. The most important factor in maintaining coal-related jobs is demand for coal. Scapegoating and stoking fear among workers over the permitting process is counter-productive...Let’s speak a little more truth here. No deliberate effort to do away with the coal industry could ever succeed in Washington because there is no available alternative energy supply that could immediately supplant the use of coal for base load power generation in America. That is a stubborn fact ..."