The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox serves as President/C.E.O. of The Evangelical Environmental Network. Before his call to ordained ministry, he served the coal and utility industry as Director of Fuel Systems for Allis Mineral Systems.
In the book of Micah, the Bible tells us “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Nowhere is that more needed than the coal towns of Appalachia, where jobs have withered, including over 13,000 lost in Kentucky alone.
Many in my family are among the millions who supplied America’s energy needs for the past century. From Harlan County, Kentucky, to Cambria County, Pennsylvania, coal dust runs in my blood.
Both my grandfathers suffered black lung disease, my dad suffered a mine-related serious back injury, and I spent the first decade and a half of my career in the coal industry before becoming an evangelical pastor.
We owe a great debt to American coal miners, both men and women, who risked their health and lives to provide for their families and to ensure that the rest of us had energy to turn on lights and run our factories.
Today, the reality is that coal is dying. Natural gas, wind and solar are now cheaper than coal in producing the electricity that drives our nation. Last year, Chris Bean, president of Appalachian Power, said, “New coal plants just aren’t in any company’s future.”