PRESTONSBURG – Eastern Kentucky has been affected by the war on coal. Many longtime residents have left their homes and communities due to foreclosures or to find work. As the candidates are campaigning for President, Eastern Kentucky residents listen intently in hopes of a candidate taking charge and breathing life back into our struggling economy.
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton recently spoke on CNN declaring her intentions for the coalfields of Eastern Kentucky.
“We will be putting a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” said Clinton.
During an exclusive interview on Wednesday, U.S. Senator Rand Paul spoke to The Floyd County Times about his concerns regarding Clinton’s latest comments and his concern for Eastern Kentucky if it was ever under her leadership.
“Hillary Clinton’s comments about the coal industry were brazen and irresponsible,” Paul said. “I think when they make explicit that their goal is, and the result of their policies will be, that they’ll be putting Kentuckians out of work, its difficult message to run on.”
Clinton’s message comes only days before CSX Corporation announced 101 jobs being eliminated in Eastern Kentucky amid a slum in the coal industry. Officials said the cuts affect only the transportation and mechanical department. The Russel plant serviced mostly the coal coming out of the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. With the decline in coal jobs, the demand was not there to support these jobs.
“This is exactly what happens, when you cut out the coal industries it is a trickle-down effect,” Paul added. “It affects everything because other jobs and industries exist to support coal. I want to propose something called Economic Freedom Zones. What this will do is make Kentucky, West Virginia and states where coal is a primary export more attractive to industry. Lower taxes to 5 percent for corporations and individuals. Instead of charging high taxes and having to hope you get some back at the end of the year as a tax refund, this plan will leave the money in the hands of the people.”
The top three coal producing states of Wyoming, West Virginia and Kentucky all saw production declines of between 5 percent and 20 percent in 2015. This presidential election could be one of the most important in Kentucky’s history.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for The Floyd County Times. She can be reached at (606) 794-0290.