Carbondale, WV The men, women, and children of West Virginia are breathing a collective sigh of relief today after President Donald J. Trump promised all residents in and surrounding coal country would be eligible for black lung benefits, regardless of past medical history.
While West Virginians are chomping at the bit to return to the mines and earn a good honest living, many are concerned that repealing Obamacare would leave them without the necessary health insurance to effectively treat common respiratory problems associated with coal mining, such as black lung disease.
Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis (CWP), commonly known as black lung disease, develops from inhaling coal dust, leaving the lungs a gothic black hue instead of a normal, healthy pink.
Trump presented himself as the coal miners’ candidate throughout his campaign, promising to bring back coal into the economy, and jobs back into struggling Appalachian towns. After his first week in office, he has kept those promises and coal is now on the verge of a major comeback.
“I’m excited to get back at it,” said Carbondale resident, Dale Gasper. “I can’t wait to get back in those mines and get my hands dirty.” Dale lost his mining job back in 2009 when regulations from the Obama Administration made it impossible to do business. “I was comfortable supporting my wife and her eight kids,” Gasper said, “until that Muslim terrorist occupied the White House.”
Dale says the President’s reassurance that black lung benefits would be available for all made his decision to allow his kids follow him into the coal mining business an easy one. “Like all parents, I want what’s best for their future,” said Gasper, “and the future is coal.”
“I’ve survived cave-ins, gas explosions, floods, chemical leaks, electrocutions…you name it,” said retired coal miner, Dustin Lungshire, “but the absolute worst was that damn black lung.” Dustin believes there are risks no matter what occupation you choose to pursue. “It’s no more dangerous than the meth labs around here,” he said.
Despite losing market share over the years to renewable energy, the folks here in coal country are confident President Trump will restore coal to its glorious heyday, back when life expectancy was 58 years for surface workers and 49 for underground crews.
“It can be done,” says Dr. Arnold Coughlin at Charleston General Hospital, “and with advances in modern science, I don’t see why we can’t get those numbers up even higher.”
Carbondale Mayor, Chester Hertz, says plans are in the works to resurrect the once popular Coal Days, a weekend long celebration of all things coal with fun, food, and live entertainment. “I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, but we have a verbal agreement with the manager of Black Oak Arkansas to kick off the festivities,” said the Mayor.
Judging by the warm, beaming smiles of optimism here in Carbondale, WV, America is well on its way to becoming great once again.