Diann Kish of Logan County, a coal miner's wife and industry proponent, also criticized the EPA. She said its report talked more about salamanders, bats, and "microwhatevers" than the coal miners themselves.
"Coal has kept the lights on for four generations," she said. "I am a granddaughter, a daughter, a mother and a wife of a coal miner.
"Life is supposed to be a choice and a freedom of ours and we've got to stand up now because we're losing these freedoms."
She said the EPA treats the people in the coal industry like they're not smart and can be controlled by a company.
"We're smart people, we're survivors, and we know how to live."
Miners filled the ground floor of the rotunda to attend the rally. They said they wanted to show the faces of the coal industry and the people who are impacted by the EPA's decision.
Mike McCourt, 47, of Webster County has been mining coal since 1982, just like his father and grandfather before him. He came with fellow employees from the International Coal Group Birch River Mine, where he's worked for the past 17 years.
"It's our life, it's our livelihood," McCourt said, holding a handwritten sign that said, "I don't want a government bailout, I want to work."
He said actions taken by the EPA made him fear not only for his job and that of his co-workers, but for all of the other stores and businesses in his community that depend on coal miners to survive.
That's a concern shared by Frank Shrewsbury, 64, of Gilbert, who retired from coal mining after 46 years.
He said the coal industry transformed his community.
"I was raised on welfare," Shrewsbury said, "and I made a good living from the coal industry so that I could send my kids to college -- we got off that social revenue."
And it wasn't just coal miners at the rally.
Perry McKinney, 54, has been the general manager of Phillips Machine Service in Beckley, and he and his employees got on a bus Thursday morning because they wanted to show that coal mining regulations affect more than just the miners.
He said a large number of jobs in his area support mining so any action that affected the industry would have a ripple effect through the community.
"It's more than just a coal miner, but everything down the line in our community, right down to the real estate."
While most at the rally were pro-coal, several dozen anti-mining protesters lined the periphery of the rotunda.
The group remained mostly silent throughout the rally, holding signs with sayings like, "Coal is not worth one single life," as well as images of polluted water and pictures in memory of recently deceased anti-mountaintop removal activist Judy Bonds.
Contact writer Jared Hunt at jared.h...@dailymail.com or 304-348-5148.
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(c) 2011, Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va.
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