PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Nearly three dozen miners in Pike County are now unemployed.
Officials with TECO Coal say they laid off 32 of nearly 200 employees at the Premier Elkhorn mine in the Myra community of Pike County.
They announced the layoffs Thursday.
"Any layoffs that you have affects employees' families, their livelihoods," said TECO Personnel Director Paul Matney.
TECO officials blame a coal industry that has been hard hit by Environmental Protection Agency regulations and a struggling economy.
"We all chase the American dream of working hard and providing our families with a good life, and it's very difficult when you know that every reduction you have affects a family," said Matney.
Officials in Pike County say while layoffs are never a good thing they believe the coal industry is starting to bounce back.
"Look at that. USA Today 6/26/13. 'Coal exports increase,' and it really increased. Gosh!" said Pike County Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford.
They are hoping along with TECO officials that soon all the miners can be back at work.
"The world needs our coal. The export market is going to be there. The question is whether this administration and the EPA in Washington is going to let us mine the coal," said Rutherford.
Officials say they hope the layoffs are temporary, but they say right now it is too hard to say.
TECO officials say all the layoffs were surface mine workers. None of them were administrative positions.