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Eastern Ky. miner talks to CBS about coal industry's struggles

Scott Duncan, a local miner from Harlan County, recently talked to CBS about being laid off from the mines, and the hardship his family has faced.

MGN Online

HARLAN, Ky. (CBS)- The increase of natural gas production has had an impact on the coal industry. For more than 100 years, Harlan County has been fueled, funded and fed by coal, the backbone of this nation's energy industry.

In the past two years unemployment has gone from 9.8 percent in 2011 to 17.2 percent today.In Eastern Kentucky overall, 42 percent of miners have lost their jobs.

Scott Duncan is one of them. He says, “It’s been rough paying bills, feeding kids, you just don't know how you're going to make it.”

Duncan worked in mining for 18 years. He and his wife charity have three teenagers.

He was making $80,000 a year, now he’s on food stamps. His wife Charity says they had a 10 year old vehicle that they pawned the title for $250 to cover groceries. They only lasted for three days.

The downturn in Eastern Kentucky's coal fortunes has been in part by the boom in US natural gas production and new federal limits on green house gasses

You use to see coal trucks full of coal coming through a Harlan County mine owned by C.V. Bennet every three minutes. Bennett whose family owns the only mines still operating in Harlan County says it can no be days without filling up a truck. Five years ago Bennett had 500 employees. Today it’s 100.

Bennett says he feels like his miners are extended family, and has an obligation to keep them working.

Scott Duncan received a job offer this week, but it is 400 miles away from Harlan.

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