BEALLSVILLE, OHIO (REUTERS) -
Leon Lieser has been a coal miner 49 years, his bent fingers testament to his first job, loading coal by hand into a bucket. Mining also led to a hip replacement and a knee replacement. He loves his job and his industry, despite what it has done to his body.
“It’s a way of life. It’s a proud life,” said Lieser, 66.
It may also be doomed. Lieser’s boss, Robert Murray, chief executive of Murray Energy Corp, said he fears for the end of coal, prodded by a U.S. president who has promoted wind and solar power while cracking down on emissions from coal-fired power plants.
“There are no coal-fired plants being built. Mr. Obama took care of that. I think we’re totally eliminated by 2035,” said Murray, 73, a prominent advocate for his industry and a fund-raiser for Republican Party causes.
Murray, too, decided to spend his life in the industry, even with the dangers readily apparent. His father was paralyzed from the neck down in a mining accident when Murray was 9 years old, and Murray broke his neck twice in mining accidents during the 16 years he worked underground, before he built the country’s largest privately held coal company.