After all, his county is one of the top coal producing counties in the state and he said he knows how devastating it would be if the Environmental Protection Agency stops coal mining.
Now, many miners are scared for their jobs as the EPA reevaluates several local surface mine permits.
Kirkendoll said that while many states are looking for a handout from the federal government, all Logan Countians and West Virginians want is the ability to work and make their own living.
He said that ability to work is being threatened by the EPA's slow reevaluation process.
Kirkendoll has asked Gov. Joe Manchin for a meeting with him, commission presidents from Lincoln, Boone, Mingo and Kanawha counties, the EPA, the Division of Environmental Protection, Congressman Nick Rahall, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, representatives from U.S. senators Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller's offices and officials from the coal industry.
Today at 3 p.m., the group will meet privately in the governor's office to discuss coal's future and the economic impact it has on the state and nation.
"This meeting was way overdue to have all the major coal producers' officials together with the EPA and the DEP, the congressional people and the commission presidents from the five major coal-producing counties that spend the money and try to create activities on coal tax," Kirkendoll said. "Everybody that has a stake in what we do will be there. Instead of each of us writing letters, I wanted to get us all together — the people who are investing their money, who are spending the money, the people who are making laws and making the rules — so that we can ask how do we a qualify permits that are solid and work. I sent the governor a letter and he thought it was a great idea so he put the meeting together."
Gov. Manchin spoke yesterday afternoon at a meeting at the Chief Logan State Park Convention Center. He spoke on the importance of coal to the state and country and how devastating it would be if the mining of coal is stopped by EPA rules and regulations. Manchin said Kirkendoll got the ball rolling on the meeting and the two of them worked together to get everyone involved in mining in one room to hash out the problems the industry is facing.
"Art and I have been talking for more than a month and we wanted to get everyone in the same room to make sure we're all on the same page," Manchin said. "Art said he'd get all the local officials together and I said I'd get the federal and state representatives and we'll get together in a conference. Art pushed for this and we both agree this is a great opportunity for us to make sure we're all on the same page. If we're not, at least we know. Our representatives are going to be fighting hard for us and they will know how strong and determined we are."
Manchin spoke at the Post Mine Land Use Forum sponsored by the Corridor G Regional Development Authority yesterday afternoon to a group of coal industry officials.
Coal was the main topic of discussion and a Belgian Public Television crew attended and interviewed several of the officials about coal's importance.
"This country cannot afford the self-inflicted pain it's about to put itself through," Manchin told the Corridor G group.
"All we're saying is 'Let us work.' Everyone else has their hands out for a check. We just want to work. This is all about people having jobs and being able to take care of themselves."
Kirkendoll said Manchin is standing up and fighting for the right to mine coal in West Virginia.
"I thought the governor's speech was direct and I think he gets the fact that there is a problem and he understands that the federal people do not understand how West Virginia people work and what a quality job we do at creating affordable energy for the rest of the nation," Kirkendoll said. "The rules and regulations are stalling our production and investments and I think he sees it could destroy West Virginia's economy and it will affect the rest of America. But, it's going to be too late if West Virginia goes first. I've asked him to step up and defend us. I think he's going to be there and he's a good spokesperson for us mining coal and doing it responsibly. Along with Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin and our legislative leadership, I have always been an advocate for the mining industry and I told people years ago the ability to get a mining permit getting tougher and tougher.
"My friends in these southern coalfields are seeing that what I predicted is happening. They are standing strong. We're not going to take this sitting down. We just think people ought to be able to have a job and not have to worry 'Can I feed my family next week?'"
Kirkendoll said coal mining affects everyone and not just those in the industry. He said the loss of coal mining jobs will affect people inside and out of the mining industry due to the money that will be lost from the economy if those jobs are taken away.
"We want to do the right thing. We want to mine coal responsibly," Kirkendoll said. "People outside the coal industry are going to lose their jobs, too. The trickle-down-effect is going to be economically devastating. I think people who never worried about it before is worrying about it now. And that's got us all in the same boat together. Like the governor said, we're not asking for stimulus packages or financial help. We're asking for work permits. The people of West Virginia are the best workers in the world. I'll stand up for them and, thank God, the governor and these other people are standing up for them, too."
Prior to the meeting, Manchin was interviewed by the Belgian TV crew.
"We are visiting coal states for whom it is really important that coal is still there," Greta Dekeyser, a reporter for Belgian Public Television, said. "Your governor, who is a Democrat, says there are no alternatives to coal so don't threaten our jobs before you have a valid alternative. That's what my story is about."
The governor was introduced by Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin. Others speaking at the event were Howard Sammons, chairman of the Corridor G Regional Development Authority; Randy Huffman, cabinet secretary of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection; Terry Clarke, project manager, energy resources with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Jim Corsaro, vice president-West Virginia Operations of the Penn Virginia Resource Partners, L.P.; Jeff Wood, energy development specialist with the Office of Coalfield Community Development; Randy Harris, director of the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority; Matt Fisher, director of new business development with EarthMark Mitigation Services; Jonathan Fowler, a development engineer with EarthMark Mitigation Services; Howard Sammons, chairman of the Corridor G Regional Development Authority and Tommy Adkins, executive director of the Corridor G Regional Development Authority.