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Coal Sponsorship at Football Game Upsets Environmental Groups

by Josh James, Kentucky Public RadioA 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 and the Kentucky Coal Association have paid $85,000 to put their name on three athletic events this year—the Cats-Cards this Saturday is the first. “A lot of people support this industry,” says Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett. “This kind of allows us to hit those people who may not know much about coal but can learn about its positive impact while attending a great football game.”But environmental groups are crying foul. They cite the environmental problems caused by the coal industry around the state and say a political advocacy group shouldn't be given billboard and scoreboard space at Commonwealth Stadium.Greg Capillo, an activist with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and Kentucky Mountain Justice, says the sponsorship could backfire on the coal industry.“What this does it allows us to publicly call them out and then gather more support for future actions,” Capillo said.Similar sentiments were voiced back in 2009 when UK named a yet-to-be-completed dorm the Wildcat Coal Lodge.Friends of Coal will also present scholarship money to the mining department at UK during halftime.

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