The most moving and passionate speech of the Count On Coal Rally for American Energy Jobs at Washington, D.C. this week was given by a member of the rank and file.
Dave Green is the Captain of a mine rescue team for Alpha Natural Resources and he came to Washington to make his voice heard for himself, his fellow miners and his industry.
Green began with a thank you for the hard-working Americans who came out to support the cause, then he spoke out, loud and from the heart as to the reason for his visit to the nation’s capitol:
“I am honored to stand here today to represent coal miners. I am proud to be a miner and I am proud to be an American. Being here in Washington D.C. is a powerful reminder to me of what a great nation we are blessed to be a part of As I look around at the buildings and the monuments here I am amazed. The construction and the engineering in this city is a marvel.But the treasure of our nation is not the buildings or the monuments we’ve built.The true treasure of our nation is the great people that these monuments were erected to honor. Because there is no national treasure that compares to our American people.
I am here today to represent one group of those people — the coal miners. I’d like to clarify that I am a coal miner by choice. I’m not a miner by default because I’m from West Virginia, I have friends at home who are salesmen, engineers and doctors, but I’m a coal miner.
More specifically, I’m a mine rescue captain for Alpha Natural Resources. That’s not a curse, it’s not a prison, it’s an honor. I’m no more scared underground than you are in your office. I’m vigilant and aware of the dangers that exist, just as you should be when you cross the street. I’m a professional, just like you are. I just get a lot dirtier. I think I have some coal mining buddies here today who know exactly where I’m coming from. A major role that we play with Alpha as a mine rescue team is training underground miners in various safety aspects of mining. For us, the motivation is not just loss prevention or to meet a requirement. For us, the coal miners that we train aren’t just employees, they’re much more than that. We know their names, we know their kids’ names. They’re our friends and they’re our family members. For us, the motivation in training is the preservation of the life and health of our most valuable resource—our people.
Recently, our industry has been in a bit of a pinch, and while other industries in time of need have received a helping hand from our federal government, the hand that we’ve seen has been more of a fist.
Coal has played a crucial role in creating prosperity in the United States by providing affordable energy and now the EPA is putting our people and our economy at risk by proposing regulations for coal-fired power plants that are an under-handed attempt at crushing our vital industry.
To propose regulations that are too much and too fast for the industry to keep up with is nothing less than a way to take coal out of our nation’s energy options.
I believe that renewable resources like wind and solar energy are excellent additions to our energy options but we all know that with existing technology, they are only able to provide a fraction of what is needed and so to propose regulations on our plants that aren’t even based on current technology is a total gamble. It’s a gamble with our economy. It’s a gamble with our energy availability but most importantly, and worst of all, it’s a gamble with our peoples’ future. I believe in saving the trees. I believe in saving the polar bears and the whales. I believe in preserving our planet and our nation for the next generation but how can we do that if we aren’t even willing to preserve our people.
At the heart of this discussion, we aren’t arguing over climate change or proposed regulations, this is not just a plea for an industry, this is not a plea for the value of a mineral. This is a plea for our brothers and sisters who across this country are working hard in the dark to provide light to us all. This is a plea for people like Dave Moore who is so passionate about running coal that throughout the shifts that we work together, I can hear him yelling with such enthusiasm that it would make your hair stand on end (at least, if you hair, I guess). It is a plea for men like my Uncle Mike, who was seriously injured in a mining accident, but even after surgery and enduring crippling pain, he went back into the coal mine for round two. This is a plea for people like Rob Asbury, who was willing to lead a team of mine rescue team members into a coal mine while all others were trying to find their way out of the smoke. This is a plea for men like my dad, who I watched for nearly 20 years whether sick, tired or in pain pick up his lunch bucket,his hard had, kiss my mom and go to work as an underground foreman because he loved his family and he loved his job. This is a plea for our people, for our families and for our children.
I would be remiss today if I didn’t take the time to thank all you hard-working folks for coming out today and supporting coal. Our nation and our industry need more leaders like you with the courage and conviction to stand up for the future of our people because a lot of folks would like to say that coal mining is done, that it’s a dying industry, but if there was ever a resource worth preserving, it’s the coal miner.They don’t stand in line waiting for a hand out They put their shoulder to the plow. They come home with coal dirt in their eyes and under their fingernails because they aren’t afraid of an honest day’s work.The miner is the epitome of the American worker. With a strong back and a big heart, they’re providing an essential commodity to this nation.
In our quest to preserve our nation and preserve our planet, may we not fail and may we never forget to preserve our greatest resource, our greatest national treasure, our American people.”