What Next

Coal Country Has Been Burned Before

Why mistrust and broken promises have stalled the path to a future without coal.


Episode Notes

A group of unpaid miners has blockaded a railway in Harlan County, Kentucky. The goal? Stop a train car full of their former employer’s coal from going to market until they get what they’re owed. It’s a straightforward protest that has been going on for more than six weeks now. One thing that isn’t so straightforward, however? How to help coal mining communities, like the ones in Harlan County, confront a future with less and less coal.

Guests: Gary Lewis, Harlan County miner, and Ken Ward Jr., reporter at the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

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About the Show

The problem with the news right now? It’s everywhere. And each day, it can feel like we’re all just mindlessly scrolling. It’s why we created What Next. This short daily show is here to help you make sense of things. When the news feels overwhelming, we’re here to help you answer: What next? Look for new episodes every weekday morning.

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  • Mary Harris is the host and managing editor of What Next, Slate's new daily news podcast. She has reported throughout the public radio system, for NPR, Marketplace, and WNYC.