Stanley Sturgill is a retired coal miner and federal coal mining inspector with 41 years of service to the industry. He and 13 others are inside the Kentucky Capitol rallying for change.
Here are some of his thoughts:
"I came to Frankfort on Friday to try to meet with the Governor; we had requested a meeting earlier. Of course the Governor had time restraints but eventually gave us a few minutes of his time. We gave him a few of our requests that we wanted to discuss with him, but the Governor disagreed with us on most of our requests. And then again, we didn't get to tell him everything that we wanted to discuss with him.
So, the Governor told us that he would be glad to meet with us at a later date, but it's really hard. We all live in so many far-off places here--I'm from Harlan County. It's hard for us to get our concerns and ourselves together at one particular time. So we just told the Governor that we would just wait and maybe talk to him again when he got time. He told us that he probably wouldn't have any more time Friday. So we told him we'd just wait on him, and he told us we could wait all weekend if we wanted to.
We spent our first night last night. I'm 65 years old, and never in my wildest dreams did I figure that I'd be sleeping on the floor of the Governor's office in the state of Kentucky. But that's just how important I believe this is. We've got a lot of concerns about our area. We're going to stay the weekend and try to get a message to the Governor and Mrs. Beshear and see if they want to drop by his office today or tomorrow and talk with us. I feel like that would be a great opportunity for all of us to get together--especially for the governor.
I have two big concerns: one is trying to stop MTR and his decision to sue the EPA. Second, I'm a strong miners' advocate. I'm retired, and I questioned the Governor about getting his support for MSHA's comment period about violations and getting some of these mines closed that don't follow the rules and regulations. He said he wasn't that aware of what was going on, so I'd like to talk more about this with him. There is a strong pattern of violations--and they're going to lead to more tragedies like Upper Big Branch. According to the 1997 act, the coal miner is our most precious resource."
To speak more with Stanley, call 859-779-1594.