MADISONVILLE, Ky. (9/5/13) – The message from the Hopkins County Coal Rally was plain — "We are fighting back in Obama's war on coal."

U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville, spoke to a crowd of thousands during a rally held on the Hopkins County Fairgrounds. He was joined by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, state representatives Jim Gooch and Ben Waide, Hopkins County Attorney Todd P'Pool as well as representatives of several coal advocacy groups.

Whitfield, chairman of the House Energy and Power subcommittee, said the rally provides an avenue for getting the message out to America that coal fuels the economy.

"Opportunities like this are very important to help educate Americans," said Whitfield prior to taking the podium. "We are the only country in the world, where you cannot get a permit to build a new coal-fired power plant. Other countries' economies are booming while ours is sagging. Those countries are building coal-fired plants to generate affordable electricity, which fuels their economies."

P'Poole, R-Madisonville, told the crowd Pres. Barack Obama openly declared a war on coal during his first campaign for the presidency.

"Barack Obama is trying to shut us down," said P'Poole. "We are on the front line of that war."

McConnell said the Obama administration's war on coal has caused severe hardship in parts of the state.

"In eastern Kentucky, there's a depression," McConnell said. "Not a recession but a depression. The president's war on coal is war on Kentucky."

McConnell, Senate Republican leader, said the Obama administration has had an "anti-business" philosophy that has been detrimental to the economy and jobs.

When asked about the benefits of UMWA miners, whose retirements were affected by Patriot's federal bankruptcy filing, McConnell said that the matter is still in the courts and could become a legislative issue in the future.

"It's still in the hands of the court," he said, after leaving the podium. "If it gets to the legislature, I hope we can find a way to help."

Rita Dukes Smith
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