Pro-coal forces will line up across coal country Saturday afternoon, beginning near Big Stone Gap, Va., and stretching through three states in an effort to rally support for the battered mining industry of central Appalachia.
According to organizers, the lineup will begin alongside U.S. 23 into and and through Eastern Kentucky, all the way into Ohio, near Chillicothe. Organizers say the the lineup will also follow U.S. 119 to Charleston, W.Va.
Jesse Salyer Jr., one of the organizers with United for Coal, says the event is trying to put a face on coal mining.
“People in Washington D.C. don’t care about miners,” Salyer said. “We want to put a face on this to let America know that there are people affected by this from Ohio to Big Stone Gap, Va., and all places in the coalfields in between.”
Salyer says that they expect Sen. Brandon Smith and Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne Rutherford to be in attendance in Pikeville. Additionally there are expected to be 20,000 people in Pike County, and over 200,000 from the beginning to the end of the lineup.
Salyer says the rally is in response to the crippling nature of an administration out of touch with a region, and draconian EPA policies aimed at stamping out the coal industry.
“We just need a change. We’re trying to inform people about what’s going on,” Salyer said. “This thing affects our whole region. They’re trying to do away with our way of life, with nothing to replace it.”
The lineup will begin at 1:30 p.m. and organizers are hoping to have an excellent turnout, full of passion and signs showing support for coal mining. The event is expected to be captured by aerial photography.