Charleston, W.Va. (AP) -- The coal industry is responding with diplomacy to Sen. Robert C. Byrd's attack on mountaintop removal mining.
The National Mining Association says it agrees with most of the West Virginia democrat's comments, including statements that coal remains an essential energy source.
Highly efficient mountaintop mines are common in parts of Appalachia but widely opposed as too damaging by environmentalists.
The statement Byrd issued Thursday says the practice enjoys little support in Washington.
Moreover, he says the industry isn't helping by attacking opponents and sowing fear in the Appalachian coalfields.
The mining association says coal mining is adapting to the 21st century by embracing better safety equipment and technology while remaining vital to the economy.
(Copyright 2009 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)