PIKEVILLE, Ky. – There is no place too far that William “Rooster” Bogar would not travel to support the coal mining industry.
“My job depends on coal,” Bogar said. “This is how I support my family. I am making this trip to stand up for my job, my family and my state and region.”
Bogar, 48, is a field technician for Whayne Cat, a Caterpillar dealer in Pikeville in Pike County, Kentucky. He and his family live in Sidney, Ky.
“I have been working in the mining industry since I was 15-years-old,” he said.
Bogar and his wife, Ruth Ann, made the long journey to Abington, Va., to attend a “Rally for Appalachian Coal Jobs,” along with hundreds of other Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia coal supporters.
Virginia has become a battleground state in this year’s presidential election, and Republicans are making an all-out effort to show coal supporting voters that they are the political party that cares about the future of the coal industry.
“I am a Democrat, but I cannot support President Barack Obama and his U.S. Environmental Protection Agency war against coal,” said Steven Bryant, a coal truck driver.
Bryant, 31, of Pikeville, Ky., also made the trip to the rally with his wife Heather.
“Our entire region depends on the coal industry and we are going to fight for our jobs, families and community,” Bryant said. “We are going to send a message at this rally, which is we will not support anybody that is against coal and against our jobs.”
The conservative group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the pro-coal Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security lined up four of Virginia’s most prominent elected Republicans to make the case for supporting coal at the rally in far southwest Virginia. The rally included Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem) for the “Rally for Appalachian Coal Jobs” on Saturday, June 2, 2012, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Washington County Fairgrounds.
“Coal jobs in Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia and across this nation are under regulatory assault from bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.,” said Audrey Jackson, Virginia’s AFP director, in a prepared news release. “This rally is our opportunity to stand up for our communities, our families and our jobs. Harding working people from this region are tired of watching coal jobs disappear to policies based on radical ideology.”
Bogar says states should be able to self-regulate environmental rules.
“The federal government shouldn’t have the right to tell us how to regulate our jobs and industries,” he said. “They need to leave us alone. We don’t tell other states to shut down their factories, industries and jobs.”
Coal supporters continue to voice their complaints and concerns over President Obama’s administration and EPA moves to curb carbon emissions by denying new coal mining permits and, sometimes, even pulling already approved permits. The Obama administration and the U.S. EPA appear to be against new coal-fired power plants and have increased oversight of mining permits.
“This is devastating coal and coal-related jobs and communities,” said Heather Bryant. “It’s just wrong for our federal government not to care about us.”
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. EPA’s determination that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are pollutants dangerous to human health and welfare. West Virginia and Kentucky officials and political leaders have also either filed or joined lawsuits against the EPA or have threatened to file. Many pro-coal groups, politicians and others have also testified or spoken before U.S. Congressional committees in hearings and at other events regarding this issue of coal.
“This is war on coal,” Bogar said. “And we plan to fight for our jobs, families and communities no matter how far we have to go.”
Julie Wilson, executive assistant of the Coal Operators & Associates in eastern Kentucky, organized one of the bus trips.
“We were well pleased with the turnout and consider this a big success,” she said.