Coal industry steps up fight against environmentalists in Kentucky

HAZARD, Ky. -- Environmentalists' campaigns against strip mining and heat-trapping gases from coal-fired power plants have been so successful in swaying public opinion recently that the coal industry has started to take a more aggressive, visible approach to protect its interests, Kentucky activists say.

New coal industry-sponsored groups are sponsoring charitable efforts, concerts and rallies, and distributing stickers, T-shirts and license plates across the region.

A new multistate public relations campaign called FACES of Coal was launched last week in Kentucky. Its aim is to tell people outside the mining regions that coal is good for the state. The FACES of Coal organizers say the benefits are low electricity rates that attract other industries, jobs in poor areas, and flat land for development where there used to be mountainsides.

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