Environmentalists Unhappy With Coal Sponsorship

Sep 15, 2011

A decision to allow Friends of Coal to sponsor the University of Kentucky-University of Louisville football game this Saturday isn't sitting well with some environmental groups. Friends of Coal, a campaign run by the Kentucky Coal Association, has paid 85-thousand dollars to put their name on three athletic events this year -- the Cats-Cards this Saturday being the first. The group will also hand out scholarship money to the UK minding department during halftime. 

"A lot of people support this industry and this allows to hit those people who may not know much about coal but can learn about its positive impact while attending, hopefully, a great football game," Kentucky Coal Association president Bill Bissett said. 

But members of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky Mountain Justice, UK Greenthumb, and others are crying foul.

"What they're doing is setting themselves up for situations for folks like us to go out in the streets against them," said Greg Capillo, a coordinator for the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition. 

Capillo calls Friends of Coal a political advocacy group and says they shouldn't be given billboard and scoreboard space at Commonwealth Stadium. 

"This isn't about business. This is about business involving itself in public life in places it doesn't belong," Capillo said. 

Similar sentiments were voiced back in 2009 when UK renamed a dorm the Wildcat Coal Lodge. Now, students and activists are preparing to protest again. Capillo says a meeting is scheduled for 5:30 today in the UK student center to discuss direct action for Saturday, but no official plans have been made.