For many people in central Appalachia, coal mining doesn’t just mean jobs or the ability to earn a good living right out of high school. For some, coal is an identity, a culture, and one that is not exclusive to the coalfields of West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky.
West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s podcast Inside Appalachia is focusing this week on what coal means, not just to the coal communities we think of in the U.S., but around the world.
When President Trump wants to talk coal, he comes to West Virginia. So, it wasn’t surprising that he visited Charleston in August 2018 just hours after his administration unveiled a long-awaited overhaul of the Obama administration’s signature climate change regulations. In this week’s episode, the team at Inside Appalachia explores the rollback of those environmental rules known as the Clean Power Plan and its impact.
“Since Donald Trump was elected to president, coal mining has picked up, and he made his promise, and he’s keeping it and continue to make coal good and American great again,” said Jonathan Crum, a Kentucky coal miner who works for a mine repair and maintenance company in Logan County, West Virginia.
While coal production is lagging nationwide, it is up in southern West Virginia, the Beckley Register-Herald reported. But an annual coal production report, released by West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, shows the recent uptick in coal production is likely to be short-lived.
PRI’s The World also released a two-part series about what happened in the U.K. when the government decided to shut down coal mines and coal-fired power plants as part of an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Inside Appalachia shares those stories, highlighting the voices of people from coal mining communities in Wales as they discuss the mine closures from 30 years ago in the documentary After Coal.
This week, Inside Appalachia also revisits a 2014 interview with Fiona Ritchie, host of NPR’s Celtic music program The Thistle & Shamrock. Ritchie discusses her 2014 book Wayfaring Strangers: The Music Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia. It shares the story of the music migration from Scotland and Ireland to Appalachia and highlights the threads of the traditional music you can still hear in Appalachia today.
Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting. This episode was originally published by West Virginia Public Broadcasting.