• Superintendent Jackie Ratliff, a coal miner of 25 years, walks towards a pile of coal waiting to be shipped at a processing plant Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, in Welch, W.Va. Central Appalachia’s struggle is familiar to many rural regions across the U.S., where middle-class jobs are disappearing or gone and young people have no other choice than to leave to find opportunity. But the problems are amplified in coal country, where these difficult economic and social conditions have gripped the region for decades and where there is hardly any flat land to build anything. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

    Appalachia grasps for hope as coal loses its grip

    WELCH, W.Va. (AP) — The seams of coal in some of Eddie Asbury’s mines in McDowell County are so thin workers can barely squeeze down them. They enter on carts nearly flat on their backs, the roof of the mine coursing by just a few inches in front of their faces. They don’t stand up all day.