Coal / Mountaintop Removal

Beyond coal: Imagining Appalachia’s future

To offset lost mining jobs, officials, business leaders and environmentalists are setting aside political feuds to try to create an entrepreneurial economy

 Nathan Hall, left, and Todd Howard checked a field of hemp, one of six sites the pair manages. Instead of a silver bullet, Mr. Hall said, “We want to be a part of the silver buckshot that’s going to hopefully transform this region.” Photo Credit: Mike Belleme for The New York Times

Nathan Hall, left, and Todd Howard checked a field of hemp, one of six sites the pair manages. Instead of a silver bullet, Mr. Hall said, “We want to be a part of the silver buckshot that’s going to hopefully transform this region.” Photo Credit: Mike Belleme for The New York Times

PIKEVILLE, KY — “Nearly 13,000 coal jobs — and countless more in related industries — have disappeared in Kentucky since President Obama took office; coal employment is at its lowest level since 1898. In Washington, Democrats and Republicans remain locked in a feud over whether Mr. Obama’s aggressive environmental regulations amount to a “war on coal.” On the presidential campaign trail, Donald J. Trump is vowing to “put our miners back to work.”

But across central Appalachia, and especially here in eastern Kentucky, elected officials, business leaders, environmentalists and community advocates are looking beyond politics to wrestle with a question essential to the region’s survival: What comes after coal?

… Reimagining central Appalachia will take more than putting unemployed miners back to work. It will also require giving young people a reason to stay.”

— Sheryl Gay Stohlberg, New York Times

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