FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Several hundred protesters have trooped up the Capitol steps to protest the form of coal mining known as mountaintop removal.
The protestors walked down the street chanting and holding signs demanding an end to surface mining.
People we talked to said that coal is not sustainable and legislators need to start looking for other ways to boost the economy in eastern Kentucky besides coal.
Others said their main concern was the environmental and health risks of mountain top removal.
“One reason I am here is because I think a lot of coal miners are losing their jobs because of mountain top removal I think there are better ways to mine coal and there is just no reason to mine coal in such wasteful and destructive way,” said Silas House.
Bill Bisset with the Kentucky Coal Association was also in Frankfort Thursday.
He says stopping surface mining would ultimately mean more people without jobs.
He says coal has not only been the main foundation of Eastern Kentucky's economy but it has also provided low cost electricity.
“I understand that these people have great power in what they do but they really don't reflect the vast majority of Kentuckians who appreciate what our miners do who understand the importance of coal and it's direct effect to our economy,” Bisset said.
Members of Kentuckains for the Commonwealth organized the rally.
The rally has become an annual Valentine's Day rite in Frankfort to show support for perennial, but so far unsuccessful, legislation that would effectively end the controversial practice.
Mountaintop removal clears forests and blasts rock to extract coal, often dumping dirt, rock and rubble in nearby valleys.
Coalfield lawmakers shrug off claims by environmentalists about the damage caused by mountaintop removal, effectively killing all bills that would stop it, including two pending in the Kentucky General Assembly this year.
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