Friends of Coal

Friends of Coal is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit trade group[1] that functions in several states and works closely with state coal trade organizations.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9]

Friends of Coal
Legal status501(c)(6) trade group[1]
HeadquartersLexington, Kentucky, U.S.[1]
Coordinates38°00′45″N 84°33′14″W / 38.012366°N 84.554012°W / 38.012366; -84.554012Coordinates: 38°00′45″N 84°33′14″W / 38.012366°N 84.554012°W / 38.012366; -84.554012
Aaron Bond[2]
Lauren McElroy[2]
Tim Fields[2]
Revenue (2019)
Expenses (2019)$356,751[1]


It was founded in West Virginia by the coal industry as a countermeasure to grassroots environmental justice movements during the summer of 2002 over debates about legislation concerning weight limits on West Virginia highways for trucks carrying coal.[10]: 196 [11]: 94–96  The organization was incorporated in Kentucky on May 13, 2008.[12]

A marketing firm called Charles Ryan Associates helped create a backbone for the organization.[13] It subsequently broadened its efforts to improve the image of the coal industry and to link the coal industry to the economic and social self-identity of people who live near coal mines. As part of the latter effort, it sponsors local events like car shows and sports events.[11]: 96–105  Friends of Coal also says it helps create jobs for upcoming generations.[14]


Friends of Coal represents coal mining companies.[15]

Marshall University and West Virginia University played in a yearly football game sponsored by Friends of Coal, known as the Friends of Coal Bowl, from 2006 to 2012.[16][17] In 2014, the Friends of Coal Bowl was a game between two Kentucky high school football teams.[18] These sponsorships are controversial, and the universities have been criticized for "selling out" to the coal industry.[19]

Friends of Coal sponsored An Evening with Charlie Daniels Band and Halfway to Hazard in Louisville, Kentucky in 2009.[20]

Friends of Coal sponsors car shows and have a license plate available for purchase by their members.[21] Revenue from purchases of the license plates forms 97% of the organization's annual revenue.[1]

Friends of Coal provides academic scholarships for students who have a family member in the coal industry.[22] During 2019, Friends of Coal gave a total of $222,930 of scholarships.[1]


In 2010, U.S. Senate candidate Ron Paul used Friends of Coal's logo in a political advertisement. Friends of Coal had not endorsed Paul's candidacy, and a Friends of Coal executive asked the Paul campaign to stop using the logo so that people would not wrongly think otherwise. The Paul campaign refused to stop using the logo, saying it was legal to use the logo, even without permission from the organization.[23]

Ladies AuxiliaryEdit

There is a sub-group from Friends of Coal known as Friends of Coal Ladies Auxiliary. It was founded in Beckley, West Virginia, in 2009 by Regina Fairchild. It aims to help the coal industry, similarly to Friends of Coal, and also participates in charity work and military troop support.[24]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Friends of Coal Inc. Internal Revenue Service. December 31, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Annual Report". Friends of Coal, Inc.]" Secretary of State of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. March 9, 2022.
  3. ^ Bump, Philip (January 15, 2014). "Parched in West Virginia? Allow 'Friends of Coal' to Quench Your Thirst". The Atlantic.
  4. ^ "Sociological Stew: "Friends of Coal"". Sociological Stew. 30 September 2009.
  5. ^ Marley, Ben (August 2013). "Battle for the Mountains: Restructuring Extractive Production and the Socio-ecological Crisis in West Virginia 's Coalfields". University of Syracuse: Geography - Theses. Paper 6.
  6. ^ "Friends of Coal Virginia". Virginia Mining Association, Inc. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  7. ^ "Friends of Coal (Kentucky) - Profile". GuideStar. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  8. ^ "Friends of Coal Ladies Auxiliiary". GuideStar Profile. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Friends of Coal West - Profile". GuideStar. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  10. ^ Bell, Shannon Elizabeth; York, Richard (2013). "11. Community Economic Identity: The Coal Industry and Ideology Construction in West Virginia". In King, Leslie; Auriffeille, Deborah McCarthy (eds.). Environmental Sociology: From Analysis to Action. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 196ff. ISBN 9781442220775.
  11. ^ a b Bell, Shannon Elizabeth (2016). Fighting King Coal: The Challenges to Micromobilization in Central Appalachia. MIT Press. pp. 94–108. ISBN 9780262034340.
  12. ^ "Articles of Incorporation." Friends of Coal, Inc.. Kentucky Secretary of State. May 13, 2008.
  13. ^ "Friends of Coal: A Success Story" (PDF). Kentucky Coal Association ( 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 16, 2022. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  14. ^ "Who We Are". Friends of Coal. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  15. ^ "Who We Are". Friends of Coal. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  16. ^ "Friends of Coal to Sponsor Game". Associated Press. The Park City Daily News (Bowling Green, Kentucky). June 21, 2006. p. C5.
  17. ^ "Coal Bowl has been all diamonds for WVU". ESPN. September 10, 2010. Retrieved May 28, 2020.
  18. ^ "This Week's High School Football Schedule". Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Kentucky). October 10, 2014. p. B4.
  19. ^ ""Friends of Coal Bowl" Sellout: Naming of a Football Game > Appalachian Voices". Appalachian Voices. July 6, 2006. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  20. ^ Ikenberg, Tamara (April 3, 2009). "Charlie and Hazard". The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky). p. D2.
  21. ^ "Division of Motor Vehicles". Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  22. ^ "Friends of Coal Scholarships". Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  23. ^ Gerth, Joseph (February 24, 2010). "Paul Ad Assails Grayson Over His Remarks on Coal". The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky). p. B7.
  24. ^ "About Friends of Coal Ladies". Friends of Coal Ladies' Auxiliary. Retrieved April 25, 2019.

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