A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

State’s most popular specialty license plate
is Friends of Coal, followed by veterans, UK


The coal industry has long played a major role in Kentucky’s economy and politics, and it’s making its way to the back of many of our cars.

 

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Kentucky is the third-largest coal producing state in the country, falling only behind Wyoming and West Virginia. To help show support for coal mining in the state, organizations including the Kentucky Coal Association, Coal Operators and Associates and Western Kentucky Coal Association worked to create the “Friends of Coal” license plate.

 

It has become the fastest selling of more than 100 specialty plates available in Kentucky. First offered on March 12, 2009, the Friends of Coal plate had accounted for 40,018 sales as of June 27.

 

In its first year, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet sold 16,383 Friends of Coal plates, compared to 11,171 Veteran plates and 4,720 University of Kentucky plates, which are two of the other popular speciality plates. In 2011, only the 8,631 Cumberland Falls specialty plates sold so far have surpassed the 8,117 Friends of Coal plates – with half a year to go.

 

Speciality plates must be sponsored by a 5013C corporation, said Chuck Wolfe, public affairs director for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. All proceeds from the plates have “to be used for some sort of educational or other philanthropic purpose,” Wolfe said.

 

Purchasing a Friends of Coal plate is a way for individuals to show their support, said Dave Moss, president of Friends of Coal Kentucky.

 

Friends of Coal is an advocacy group which asks members to help promote the industry. Membership is free.

 

Since 2010, people who purchase or renew the plate have had the option of donating an additional $10 for coal-related scholarships in the state.

 

Half of each $10 donation goes towards scholarships for mining engineering programs at UK or any other coal-related college program in the state.

 

The other 50 percent goes towards public education campaigns to increase awareness of the economic benefits of the coal industry in Kentucky. According to the Friends of Coal website, no political messages or candidate endorsements are involved in this campaign.

 

West Virginia and Virginia officially issued similar license plates in 2011, Moss said.

 

Friends of Coal also recently received 300 signatures to approve the sale of a motorcycle plate, which can now be purchased from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

 

For a complete list of specialty license plates available in Kentucky, visit the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s website.


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