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Rita M., KY

I grew up in eastern Kentucky and was often ill from allergies and breathing problems growing up. We lived a few 100 feet from a coal tipple, and the coal trains ran day and night behind our house. Every time it rained, the runoff from the silt ponds would flood our yard eventually making it impossible to grow a garden. We hardly ever got to enjoy sitting on the front porch, because of the large volume of coal dust in the air, which inevitably made its way inside our house and covered almost everything we owned.

I always imagined that I would live this way for the rest of my life until I went away to college and found the air was much cleaner there. My allergies and breathing problems suddenly disappeared. I am sad to say that I did not go back home to live, because even though the coal industry provided some jobs, there were very few other businesses that came into the area to offer other options.

The area is still depressed economically. The coal company owners have now made their millions and left the area. What is left now is strip mining that is destroying the beauty of the area and further polluting our streams and waterways.

The EPA has been limited in what they could do in the past when it came to the coal industry. I cannot imagine what would happen if we take away what little power they have to provide a healthier environment for future generations.

First published: November 9, 2011

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