Some call coal the backbone of eastern Kentucky's economy.
Presidential candidate John McCain says he'll protect coal jobs across the country and keep coal as part of his plan for America's energy independence.
With nearly 18,000 people employed by coal in Kentucky, leaders in the coal industry are calling McCain's plan a breath of fresh air.
“I am very pleased that somebody recognizes the strategic importance of coal jobs, not only for energy independence of the United States, but also, coal play a major part in the economy in eastern Kentucky,” Paul Matney, Teco Coal, said.
Kentucky native and Chair of the Republican National Committee Mike Duncan says John McCain supports new forms of energy, including off shore drilling, solar and wind power, but says clean coal technology is also part of energy's future.
“For Obama and Biden to be against coal it really takes food off the table for people in eastern Kentucky, but more than that, it takes electricity away from people all over the state,” Duncan said.
Lt. Governor Daniel Mongiardo says Barack Obama supports the coal to liquid plan for energy.
“He understands like most of us understand that if we bring coal into the 21st century, it will be used for a long long time and coal to liquids is a central part of that,” Lt. Governor Mongiardo Said.
Lt. Governor Mongiardo says coal is part of Obama's plans to make American energy independent.
Both Barack Obama and John McCain have said they're opposed to mountain top removal.