"Coal production in Kentucky last year reached its lowest level since 1965, while shedding more than 4,000 jobs, nearly all of them in Appalachian counties, according to a new state report."
"Eastern Kentucky coalfields took the largest hit, with production dropping 27.6 percent — extending what state officials fear may be a long-term trend. Officials blame the drop on competition from natural gas and increased mining costs, along with Washington’s tougher mining rules.
'This is a reality check, particularly in the Eastern Kentucky coalfields,' said Dick Brown, spokesman for the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, which produced the report. 'The trend has been downward for some time.'"