Fingered as a culprit in global warming and feeling heat from an administration that might actually enforce clean-water laws, the coal industry is ramping up its public relations efforts.
A new multi-state campaign is called FACES of Coal. The acronym (for Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security) puts a human face on the people who mine and move coal and also on coal's benefits to the average Kentuckian. Chief among them: cheap electricity and the jobs it produces.
For many Kentuckians, though, "faces of coal" conjures up something else, the faces of people and places ravaged by the industry.
Loved ones lost to coal truck or mining accidents, like the Rev. Lonnie Preece of Martin County and Bud Morris of Harlan County.
Or Vina Lucas, 73, of Letcher County, one of many Eastern Kentuckians, who lost their drinkable water to mining.
Something else Kentuckians understand: Coal's face is the face of poverty.
Yes, the industry creates high-paying jobs in desperate places. But it has not created prosperity. Quite the opposite, as the map shows.
Kentucky's coal counties rank among the poorest 10 percent in the nation, while other Appalachian counties, where there is no coal, have figured out how to build stronger economies.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Lexington Herald-Leader.