"I Love Mountains Rally" Held In Frankfort

Thanks to Stu Johnson, Kentucky Public Radio/WEKU, Richmond

The coal mining process commonly known as mountaintop removal was again the focus of a rally Thursday outside the Kentucky state Capitol building.

The annual “I Love Mountains Rally” is sponsored by the advocacy group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. It says the practice is destroying the environment and needs to be more strictly regulated.

People who work in the coal industry say more regulation would put thousands of mining jobs at risk, and assert that steps have taken to limit the damage.

State Rep. Keith Hall of Pikeville says he has many constituents who rely on mining jobs, but acknowledged the state needs to move forward in developing alternative energy sources.

“We have a pelletizing plan for Pike County to make sawdust into wood pellets and to make energy,” he said.

Several so called “stream saver” bills that would place further restrictions on the dumping of mining waste are pending in the Kentucky General Assembly, but industry officials say adequate controls are already in place.