GRUNDY, Va. — More than 5,500 people turned out Sunday afternoon at a mountaintop park in remote Buchanan County to show their support for coal.
With the “War on Coal” rhetoric that’s been on a lot of Republicans’ lips this election season, a lineup of political speakers that included Matt Romney, son of Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, came to talk about the resource that powers both the electricity and the economy here.
“Right now our country is in dire straits,” Matt Romney said, promising that his father, if elected, would make the nation energy independent by 2020. “We can’t ignore the vast natural resources we have in this country: coal, natural gas, oil.”
In coal country, the issue is complex. On one hand, the Appalachian coal industry has been steadily losing jobs in recent decades, due in part to mechanization and declining reserves. On the other hand, new policies implemented by the Obama administration have had a painful, immediate impact.
It was clear in the mood of the crowd Sunday. Some talked about how thousands of recent coal industry layoffs have impacted their families and communities; others said they go to work every day wondering if they will still have a job when they get there.