A coalminer walks through the morning fog before going underground in a mine less than 40in high in Welch, West Virginia. Photograph: David Goldman/AP Set in a wooded valley between the Tug Fork river and the Mate creek, Matewan, West Virginia, was the site of the 1920 Matewan massacre , a shootout between pro-union coalminers and coal company agents that left 10 people dead and triggered one of the most brutal fights over the future of the coal industry in US history. The coal industry in Appalachia is dying – something that people there know better than anyone. Some in this region are pinning their hopes on alternative solutions, including rising Democratic star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. “Coal is over. Forget coal,” said Jimmy Simpkins, who worked as a coalminer in the area for 29 years. “It can never be back to what it was in our heyday. It can’t happen. That coal is not there to mine.” A coal production forecast conducted in 2018 by West Virginia University estimates coal production will continue to decline over the next two decades. Over 34,000 coal mining jobs in the US have disappeared over the past decade, leaving around 52,000 […]

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