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MADISON, W.Va. — Boone County claims to be the birthplace of America's coal industry, the rich and abundant black rock discovered in these verdant hills almost three centuries ago. Coal gives name to nearly everything in these parts — the Big and Little Coal Rivers, the weekly Coal Valley News, the wondrous Bituminous Coal Heritage Foundation Museum, and the West Virginia Coal Festival, celebrating, as we arrive in town, its 24th year.

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An Indiana Southern Railway train is loaded with coal at the Peabody Energy Somerville Central mine in Oakland City, Indiana, on April 6, 2016…

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Bulldozers sit parked in a row in this aerial photograph taken above the Peabody Energy Somerville Central coal mine in Oakland City, Indiana,…