By Roger Horton, UMWA Member and Patriot Surface Miner
President of Citizens for Coal
I am writing to express my thoughts regarding recent accusations by some that Friends of Coal isn’t doing enough to support Patriot coal miners as we fight to secure our benefits and those of our retirees. I have seen some recent columns in area newspapers that criticize Friends of Coal for remaining silent on the issue. 
Let me be clear. The Friends of Coal organization and its members have been fighting for us for the past 10 years. They have been fighting the fight in courtrooms, in Washington, DC, and across this country. In fact, no where have they worked harder than for the coal miners at my surface mine — a Patriot operation in Logan County. 
But that is beside the point. … the recent sniping at Friends of Coal by some is nothing short of an attempt to destroy one of the most important, most effective groups defending the coal industry today for petty political purposes. 
Friends of Coal is effective and strong because it brings together labor, management, owners, community leaders and the general public in one group — one that puts aside its differences on other issues — to defend the industry from the assault being waged against it by the Obama Administration and the EPA, as well as their allies in the radical anti-coal groups. 
Friends of Coal is a COALITION of many groups — including both UMWA members and Patriot management. We can work together on some issues while disagreeing on others. That’s the way a family works. And make no mistake about it — the coal industry is just that — a FAMILY. 
Family members sometimes fuss and fight, argue and complain — often for good reason — but they come together when the family is threatened. 
As president of Citizens for Coal, I have had the pleasure of working with Friends of Coal on many events, marches, protests and other activities. They have been with us every step of the way. They stood up to the Obama Administration and the EPA when others skulked away and hid in the shadows because of their partisan political loyalties, or worse, openly sided with our opponents and those who are trying to destroy our industry.
I am a proud UMWA coal miner and I work for Patriot. I have very dear friends who are Patriot retirees or current employees and I am determined to protect their benefits. I am also a proud member of Friends of Coal and so are many of those same retirees and current miners. 
In closing I would like to ask simply … where were YOU when Citizens for Coal and Friends of Coal were fighting the fight in Washington, DC, in Charleston and at hearings all over this region? 
If you were there we thank you… If not … then I would suggest take a long hard look at yourself before you start throwing stones.