WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKYT) - Miners from Kentucky and other states joined 30 members of Congress in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to rally against regulatory polices they say are killing jobs in coal country.
"We came up today to try and draw some attention to what's happening to the coal fields. The massive loss of jobs. The destruction of our entire economy," said David Kennedy from Harlan County who was in the nation's capital for the Count on Coal's Rally for American Energy Jobs.
Leaders of the rally say regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency are causing economic destruction in coal-producing states. Kentucky follows Wyoming and West Virginia as the nation's third biggest coal mining state.
National Mining Association President Hal Quinn says the administration needs to hear from workers who produce the coal that creates 40 percent of the nation's electricity.
He says the Environmental Protection Agency is hosting listening sessions on power plant regulations, but in places where it's unlikely to hear from miners.
"Unelected, unaccountable Washington bureaucrats have decreed thy this way of life -- the symbol of Appalachia -- must now come to an end," said Kentucky Republican Rep. Andy Barr who attended the rally with other Congressional leaders.
"This fight has just begun," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is the senate minority leader. "We have not given up. We are going to push back against these people in every single way we can. We are going stop this war on coal."
The coal industry employment fell from 18,111 at the beginning of 2012 to 14,083 by the end of the year, according to the Kentucky Coal Association.
Coal mine layoffs were concentrated in Eastern Kentucky where on-site employment fell by 29.9 percent in 2012.
A quarter of the coal produced in Kentucky is consumed within the the state; however, the largest market for Kentucky coal remains the generation of electrical power across the United States, namely in the Southeast.