Beshear Meets With Mining Protesters

A citizens group protesting mountaintop removal has met with Governor Steve Beshear.

Around 20 members of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth began a sit-in protest this morning in the lobby of the governor’s office. They said they wouldn’t leave unless they got an audience with Governor Beshear. Beshear initially said his schedule wouldn’t permit it, but finally emerged and fielded questions for about 30 minutes. The group wants an end to surface mining in Kentucky, but Beshear says he cannot support that.

“I understand where you’re coming from. I do think we can surface mine in a responsible way and reclaim the land and protect the water,” he said, eliciting laughter from the demonstrators. “I didn’t laugh at you when y’all were talking, so I would appreciate it if you would give me the same respect,” replied Beshear.

Among the protesters, who remained even after the governor went back to work, are author/poet Wendell Berry and novelist Silas House.

“I don’t think that we’re anywhere near the conversation that we’re going to have to have before we’re satisfied.  We represent a side, and it’s an authentic side, with substantive issues that need to be dealt with,” said Berry.

Published by Tony McVeigh

Veteran broadcast journalist Tony McVeigh has been covering Kentucky politics since 1986, reporting for Clear Channel Communications before joining Kentucky Public Radio in 2004. His stories are aired by seven KPR affiliates, whose signals blanket the Commonwealth and parts of surrounding states. McVeigh began his broadcasting career at WRFC in Athens, Georgia, while earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Georgia. He has extensive anchor/reporter experience, including stints with South Carolina Network and Georgia Radio News Service in Atlanta. In 2007 and 2008, McVeigh was named Best Radio Reporter in the Kentucky Associated Press Awards. He also picked up consecutive AP Awards for Best Political Coverage. McVeigh won four Kentucky AP Awards in 2009, six in 2010 - including Best Political Coverage and Best Hard News Feature - and three in 2011. His coverage of the 2007 Kentucky governor's race topped the Political Reporting category of the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Awards of 2008. In 2009, McVeigh placed second in Courts and Law Reporting in the Atlanta-based competition for journalists in 11 Southern states. McVeigh is also the proud recipient of an Individual Liberty Award from the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The Brunswick, Georgia, native is a die-hard UGA football fan who enjoys photography, astronomy, live music, hiking Kentucky's Red River Gorge and exploring the state's beautiful back roads. McVeigh and his big, fat, black cat Simon, reside in Frankfort, KY.