Listen to what Eastern Kentucky coal miners are saying about the 'Green New Deal'

Published: Mar. 27, 2019 at 10:30 PM EDT
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One of the creators of the Green New Deal is coming to Eastern Kentucky.

Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accepted an invitation this week from Congressman Andy Barr. The investigation comes after a heated exchange between Representative Ocasio-Cortez and a GOP congressman from Wisconsin.

One of the goals of the Green New Deal is to replace the country's energy sources with renewable ones, something that would leave things like coal in the rearview mirror.

During the House Committee meeting Tuesday, this is what Ocasio-Cortez said as she defended her Green New Deal.

"This is serious. This should not be a partisan issue. This is about our constituents and all of our lives", said Ocasio-Cortez.

Barr responded with an invitation.

"I want to invite the gentlelady to come to Eastern Kentucky, my home area, where thousands of coal miners no longer have paychecks", said Barr.

During the visit, Ocasio-Cortez will apparently visit not only coal mines but the miners who work there.

We wanted to talk with local coal miners about their thoughts on the Green New Deal ahead of her visit.

"Coal has provided me and my family with each and everything we've been blessed with", said Joe Daniels, who has been a coal miner in Eastern Kentucky for about 30 years. "As far as our finances, people often say that, but it allows us to provide for our neighbors and our community."

Daniels says working in coal mines is helping him send his children to college. For him, working in mines is a way of life. He says it has been a tradition in his family for generations.

"That's the talk at the supper table, that's the talk on the hunting trips, that's the talk on the river bank fishing", said Daniels. "And it's just kind of what you know. It just wasn't that we woke up one day and decided to be a coal miner. It's just really handed down to all of us."

Other officials we talked with at JRL Coal in Harlan County say without coal in this region, other local businesses might not survive.

"Everything from the biscuits the guys buy in the morning, to the groceries, to the local hardware stores, the car dealerships, everything is based around coal", said John Quintrell, who is the General Manager of JRL Coal.

Quintrell says there aren't many other career opportunities for the people in this region who support their families working in coal mines.

"There's not really much reason for other industry to come in here. So the coal is what has supported this area for many years", said Quintrell.

Quintrell says he sees the Green New Deal as something that increases the divide between us when we are at a time when we must come together and work together.