In a reader poll by the Appalachian News-Express in Pikeville, Ky., more than twice as many people blame "regulations" as "market conditions" for the layoffs, but the newspaper editorialized: "The reasons for the mining cutbacks are varied, and many factors are to blame; from simply a reduced need for coal to regulations that seek to reduce or end the country’s reliance on the natural resource. But, now’s not the time for finger-pointing and blame. Now’s the time to stop fighting amongst ourselves about whether mining is right or ethical and decide to ensure the future of our region. For years, the call falling on deaf ears locally has been that our economy must be diversified. And, while some progress has been made, it’s not been enough. The technological advances of recent decades, which once promised to break down the region’s barriers to success, have not paid the dividends expected. But, something has to happen and it must happen now." The weekly paper (which is largely behind a pay wall) says that the federal government is responsible for the regulations, "So, perhaps it’s time for the federal government to pony up and begin to mitigate the changes that occurring here."
The Hazard Herald wrote, "We can’t predict when we’ll reach the bottom of the current downturn, but what we can say is that if we don’t work to diversify now, our economy is going to sputter to the point that it can’t support the people it currently does." The weekly paper suggested tourism development, "But in the end we’re going to have to attract or create an industry or industries that will replace the hundreds of jobs we have lost, and more we are likely to lose. (Read more)
In an editorial titled "In decline," referring to the coal industry, The Independent of Ashland, Ky., a daily, says the fight "should not be a choice between saving the environment or saving jobs. Instead, we must find a way to preserve jobs without leveling our mountains, burying our streams and polluting our air. An impossible task? Well, it won’t be easy but it is the best hope of keeping coal an important source of energy." (Read more)
Justin Maxson, president of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, makes some specific suggestions in the Lexington Herald-Leader: "Create regional planning and funding infrastructure. We need a new and participatory body that can plan, implement, fund and evaluate economic development in the region. Tie it to the creation of a permanent fund using coal severance taxes, and we have a powerful new way to move forward. Invest more in small business and entrepreneurship. We need more successful small businesses and more entrepreneurs with the potential to build larger businesses and create jobs. Building a more effective infrastructure to support entrepreneurs at all levels is key. Support local leadership development and capacity building. Eastern Kentuckians must be central to solutions in the region. Building from and expanding existing efforts to support and involve local leaders in economic development is a central facet of a strong economy. Build around economic sectors important to the region. We should create special support resources for key parts of the economy and communities — health care, tourism, child care, wood products, local foods, energy efficiency, housing — as all play important economic roles and could play a larger role with targeted support." (Read more)