Coal miners, their communities and Faith groups are calling on President-presumed-Elect Donald Trump to honor his campaign promise to help coal workers. In an “Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump from coal miners,” hundreds of coal miners from Appalachia to Western coal lands asked for help for coal communities across the country.
They want Trump to take action to make sure coal CEOs and companies keep promises to restore the landscape and local environments by “reclaiming” the old mines, which would mean jobs in coal communities. They also asked Trump to protect the pension and health benefits they were promised. The companies and CEOs made millions from the mines and should not be allowed leave behind a devastated environment and ruined communities.
The letter was organized by Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), a network of Faith groups and worker centers working “to mobilize people of faith and work advocates in support of economic justice and worker rights at the local, state and national levels.” It asks Trump to stop coal CEOs and companies from abandoning their responsibility to clean up old mines.
The letters asks Trump to, “Ensure federal and state governments use every legal option to prevent coal companies from shirking their commitment to reclaim and repair the public lands mined for private profit.”
For example, one of those stories:
“I worked in the mines for 25 years until I had an accident and could not work anymore,” said Charles E. Boyd of McCalla, Alabama. “I am on disability due to my work injury. I also have black lung. My pension and health benefits was promised to coal miners by our government. Please keep the promise.”
Dear Mr. President-Elect Trump,
Dear Congressman Zinke, nominee for Secretary of the Department of the Interior,
Anybody who works on American coal mines knows that the industry is rapidly changing. Mines are closing, coal companies are declaring bankruptcy, and many of us are losing our jobs and our livelihoods. For some of us, these are the only jobs that we’ve ever known – once assured of a lifelong and stable career with good pay and a community in which to raise a family. No more.
We all have strong opinions about why our industry is suffering: which politicians or whose agenda is to blame. Regardless of politics, the bottom line is that we need to take care of our brothers and sisters who are facing uncertain times.
That means ensuring that coal companies follow through on their commitments to coal miners across the country. As you take action to revitalize the coal industry, we urge you and Congressman Zinke to do everything possible to hold true to your promise on the campaign trail that you are beholden to “no special interest. My only interest is you, the American people.”
Here’s how the Trump Administration can be a champion for coal mining communities in crisis:
Ensure federal and state governments use every legal option to prevent coal companies from shirking their commitment to reclaim and repair the public lands mined for private profit.
Through bankruptcy proceedings, we have learned that several companies are working to drastically reduce their financial and legal responsibility to reclaim mined land.
Any new or expanded coal leasing should be in concert with the strongest possible assurances that coal companies will honor their obligations to communities to create jobs by reclaiming and rehabilitating mined land.
Work with Congress to increase revenue and funding for communities as well as programs that support local economies.
There are a number of pieces of legislation on the table in Congress that would invest in coal communities, fund reclamation and economic revitalization projects, and protect promised benefits to coal miners and their families.
We urge you to work with Congress to pass these laws if they do not move forward before your inauguration
We, the undersigned coal miners and concerned individuals from across the country, demand action that will bring relief to coal communities.
This post originally appeared on ourfuture.org on December 15, 2016. Reprinted with Permission.
Dave Johnson has more than 20 years of technology industry experience. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. He was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.