If it seems like we post a lot of editorials from the Hazard Herald, it's only because they have some great things to say about the need for economic diversification in Eastern Kentucky. This latest piece focuses on the upcoming closure of the Big Sandy coal-fired power plant in Lawrence County. The closure will have a big impact not just on coal-plant jobs, but also on mining jobs. The Big Sandy plant gets its coal exclusively from coal mines in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, and it used a lot of it. The editorial quotes the Lawrence County Judge-Executive: “Coal is Kentucky. Coal is West Virginia. I mean that’s just what we live off around these parts," but goes on to say:
In reality, therein lies the problem. Our local economy is a single-minded one….
In Western Kentucky, according to our own reporting, there was a concerted effort to attract more jobs to the coal counties there. As of February 2013, of the counties in the Western Coalfields, only Muhlenberg recorded an unemployment rate of higher than 10 percent. The Western Coalfields’ average rate is 8 percent. And while their coal industry is doing better than ours, they don’t rely solely on coal to prop up their economy.And neither should we.