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United Mine Workers Union President Cecil Roberts says the coal industry continues to grow despite attempts in Washington to stop the use of fossil fuels.

Roberts was the keynote speaker at Wednesday's West Virginia Coal Forum held in Charleston.

Roberts says the national unemployment rate is at 9.2 percent and in West Virginia it's at 8.5 percent. He says despite the dismal numbers, there are plenty of jobs available in the coal industry.

"Everywhere I go people say, 'We can't find a job.' Well I can tell you where to find a job if you really want one. You can find a job in the coal industry," Roberts told the large crowd.

In the past five years Roberts says the union has added 3,000 new miners in West Virginia. Roberts admits a majority of those have been in one area of the state.

"Everywhere I go in northern West Virginia, I see somebody that looks like my grandson mining coal in that part of the state,” he said.

The union chief says they're making a good living thanks to new, five-year contract the rank-and-file ratified with the Bituminous Coal Operators Association back in June.

"We just got a pay raise. They got an immediate one-dollar per hour raise. They're going to get another dollar in January. That's two dollars in six months. That's an 8 percent raise in six months...And over the life of the contract, they're going to get a 25 percent overall raise. I can tell you I don't know where there's another industry that can say that,” Roberts claimed.

On top of the pay raise, there's also the benefit package that was negotiated that kept the union's substantial insurance and pension plans.

Roberts says when those who work in the mine industry are paid fair wages, it benefits everyone because they spend that money where they live.

"It's all coming back to create jobs in that area where the money comes to,” he said. “Nurses, doctors, people are buying cars from the car dealership. People are going to the grocery store. We're lifting up the economy."

Roberts says what this country needs more of is jobs. He says Congress wouldn't have brought the country to the verge of default last week with the debt crisis if more Americans were employed.

"I think the conversation should be how do we keep people working and how do we put people to work and how do we pay them excellent wages, with excellent benefits? We need more taxpayers in the United States more than anything else we can talk about."

Roberts stressed to keep the coal industry strong and adding employees, the federal EPA cannot move forward with its plan to banish coal as a form of energy.