I spoke to a well-read woman the other day about the protests against the access road that West Elk Coal Mine needs to build through a wilderness area and did not realize that the necessity of the road was not to antagonize the populace but to give coal miners a chance to breathe!

Coal mining is extremely dangerous, dirty work… yet we do depend upon coal to fire our electrical plants… so if you use electricity please give a bit of appreciation to those men and women who daily risk their lives to mine coal. There is a camaraderie that these miners feel… as the safety and even lives are dependent upon the men they work with. It brings them to an appreciation of their fellow coal miners that brings them very close… it borders a deep respect deeper far than friendship. There are bonds between them that very few other occupations forge. It is a true brotherhood. I greatly honor and respect these miners. (My husband, Eddie, mined coal, was a safety director, and was a Federal Coal Mine Inspector.)

We are all aware that coal mining is being fazed out. In the meantime the wages that are paid to these guys (and gals) are greatly enriching this county. Sadly, most of the taxes paid by the mines go to Gunnison County. Few realize that almost all the small farms that so many take for granted were kept agricultural by coal miners who worked the soil by day and mined at night (or vice versa). So some of your "organic" little plots were created and kept agricultural by coal miners.

The huge necessity of getting air into the far reaches of the mine does require a vent. The mine owners have no choice but to keep the air vents open, thus the road to them. Do you really want to deny a miner the right to a breath of air? I am a lifelong resident of Delta County, my ancestors came here in 1897 and 1912. I love this county and its people but deeply resent those who come in and try to change or negate our way of life. Please have a bit of respect to some very wonderful, hard working miners. When you flip the lights on, or bask by a warm fire, a nod of respect and thanks to the coal miners, please.

Jill VanDenBerg


Load comments