LEXINGTON, Ky.—Kentucky has a complex—and sometimes contentious—relationship with its official state mineral.
To facilitate a balanced dialog on the issue, Transylvania University will host a Conversation on Coal in Kentucky on Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 6 p.m. in the William T. Young Campus Center.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will reflect the ambivalent views of coal in the state. Over the years, the mineral has had a major impact on Kentucky’s economy—it provided jobs and ensured we had abundant energy at relatively low cost. But it also has raised environmental and health concerns.
The dialog will feature Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association, and Mary Varson Cromer, a staff attorney with the Appalachian Citizens' Law Center.
“It’s an opportunity for us to offer a venue for this conversation—where you have different people with different perspectives talking about an issue, which really does not happen enough,” said Angela Poe, Transylvania’s sustainability director. Her office and the university’s Student Government Association Activities Board are hosting the dialog.
Moderated by Tom Martin, a local journalist and writer for Transylvania’s communications office, the event will include time for audience questions and a coffee house discussion sponsored by the Transy Environmental Action League.
The idea for the Conversation on Coal emerged while making arrangements for a Feb. 15 Ben Sollee concert at Transylvania. The Lexington native has drawn attention to the practice of mountaintop removal during coal mining. “The students were inspired to do this,” Poe said. “They know Ben is interested in these issues.”
Sollee and fellow Kentucky musician Daniel Martin Moore donated all of the artist proceeds from their album, “Dear Companion,” to iLoveMountains.org.
The Conversation on Coal also is two days before the I Love Mountains rally in Frankfort, which is a protest of mountaintop removal.
For more information about the discussion, contact Poe at 859-233-8278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Campus Center is located on the southwest corner of North Broadway and West Fourth Street. Free parking is available in the university’s general parking lots along Fourth Street.
Bissett helped launch the Friends of Coal campaign, was chief of staff/senior vice president for communications at Marshall University and served as director of communications for the West Virginia departments of agriculture and transportation. He also was a columnist for The Charleston Gazette.
Mary Varson Cromer
Cromer, who joined the Appalachian Citizens' Law Center in 2008, works mainly on environmental matters. She also was an associate attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center and a clerk for the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.