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America's Growing Nest, time for some to fly out;


By Glenn Mollette 

Flying never happens until the bird leaves the nest. 

President Johnson's Great Society is just over fifty years old. During this very long period America's great society nest has become huge and yet crowded. 

President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty in January 1964. He then needed a poster child for his new campaign and chose my hometown - Inez, Kentucky. The famous TIME Magazine picture of Tom Fletcher and his family sitting on a porch with the President happened about two miles from my boyhood home. 

Life changed for America in many ways in the sixties. The Civil Rights act was vital and was an important piece of Johnson's war. Helping kids go to college was a crucial investment in America's future. In reality at face value it's hard to knock most of the programs that have became permanent American fixtures. 

Most of us know someone that has used Medicare, Medicaid, federal college help, food stamps, Head Start, Women and Infant Children and much, much more. With any thought whatsoever we know that many of Johnson's programs have been lifesavers for millions of Americans. 

The problem is how far do we go and for how long? Three fourths of our national budget goes to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense. I realize Johnson didn't start Social Security or our defense program. However, his administration produced about forty new programs and most of them in some form are still in existence. Government programs seldom go away. They just get bigger and need more and more money. 

I am all for helping people that really need it and are trying. However, there has to be a cut off time. Federal handouts can't go on for a lifetime unless someone is truly disabled. 

A lifetime of welfare is personal and national debilitation. 

One big problem is that all of The Great Society programs are enrolling more and more people. In millions of cases people hang on to their government support for as long as possible. More people require more federal budget dollars. These dollars come from the taxes of the American people. America is broke and going deeper and deeper into debt to keep our current programs going. 

The safety net programs of The Great Society era must only be safety nets with a cut off time. Millions should not be allowed to live in these safety programs forever. Whether it's one, two or even three years there must be a cut off time when the government says no more. 

There comes a time that every family must insist that every abled child financially care for himself. I firmly believe we must help every child succeed. This involves a major investment of our time and resources. Education and/or some type of training are vital to all.  However, the time comes and it's painful but children have to leave the nest. If they do not they will never learn how to fly and survive.   

Glenn Mollette is an American columnist and author.  Click here to watch Glenn Mollette's special TV broadcast on American Energy on American Issues.  Contact him at



More than 1,100 miners told their black-lung claims may been wrongly denied; Senate panel has hearing...

The U.S. Department of Labor has told more than 1,100 coal miners that their compensation for black-lung disease may have been wrongly denied, Chris Hamby reports for The Center for Public Integrity. Dr. Paul S. Wheeler, the head of the unit at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions who interprets X-rays in black-lung claims, failed to find a single case of severe black lung in more than 1,500 cases decided since 2000 in which he offered an opinion. In June officials were ordered to stop using Wheeler's opinions.

A Senate subcommittee held a hearing Tuesday in response to an investigative series earlier this year by the center and ABC News on black lung. The series won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. (Associated Press photo: Retired coal miner Robert Bailey, left, speaks with committee chairman Robert Casey, D-Pa.)

During testimony Tuesday "witnesses testified about the difficult process miners encounter when they attempt to file black lung claims," Chris Lawrence reports for MetroNews of Charleston, W.Va. John Cline, an attorney from Piney View, W.Va., "provided committee members with five examples of deceptive practices he had encountered in representing coal miners attempting to qualify for benefits," Lawrence writes.

"He spotlighted the case of Gary Fox, a longtime coal miner from Bluefield who died in 2009," Lawrence writes. Cline said the West Virginia Black Lung Review Board certified he suffered from black lung, but Elk Run Coal Co. appealed the case. Two pathologists hired as expert witnesses by Elk Run concluded Fox had black lung, "but the evidence in their report was suppressed." (Read more)

Robert Bailey of Princeton, W.Va., who worked for more than 36 years in coal mines, told the committee "it took him about four years to win black lung benefits, but that he’s still trying to get insurance to cover the cost of a lung transplant," reports The Associated Press. "There is currently a backlog of roughly 3,000 black lung cases pending before the Labor Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges, according to the Labor Department." (Read more)

Bailey "asked Congress to help streamline the process of obtaining black lung benefits, and the Obama administration insisted it is taking steps to fix longstanding abuses," Ken Ward reports for The Charleston Gazette. Bailey told the committee, “Living with black lung is thinking about every breath you take. Policies and laws need to be changed to give hope and life to those who don’t have time for stall tactics.” (Read more)

Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 7/23/2014 

Date: 07-22-2014

Coal could have a future in Kentucky if pilot project succeeds, officials say;

By Bill Estep
Lexington Herald-Leader

BURGIN — A pilot project to capture carbon dioxide from emissions at a coal-fired power plant in Mercer County could play a role in the future of coal, not just in Kentucky but elsewhere, officials said Monday.

It's a key issue for Kentucky because the state gets more than 90 percent of its electricity by burning coal, which faces increasing challenges from federal efforts to protect air quality and tackle climate change.

Those rules have influenced decisions by utilities around the country to mothball older coal plants in favor of cleaner-burning natural gas plants or other alternatives, and that has contributed to a steep slide in coal jobs in Eastern Kentucky since early 2012.

The technology that will be tested at Kentucky Utilities' E.W. Brown Generating Station is designed to upgrade coal-fired power plants to cut their carbon dioxide emissions, said Rodney Andrews, director of the Center for Applied Energy Research at the University of Kentucky.

If the project shows it is economically feasible to capture carbon on a large scale, it could help keep some coal plants in operation.

"We've still got a big challenge in front of us, but this is the start," said state Rep. Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, the House majority floor leader. "It could mean everything for Kentucky coal and coal throughout the nation."

Kentucky coal faces challenges aside from tougher environmental rules, including the low price of natural gas and, in the state's eastern coalfield, relatively high production costs.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced limits on carbon emissions from new power plants and is developing rules to require cuts in such emissions from existing plants.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that most scientists agree contributes to climate changes such as an increase in heat waves, droughts and severe storms.

Removing carbon from power-plant emissions has been a dream of utilities, the coal industry and regulators.

The technology exists to siphon off carbon before it goes out the smokestack, but there is no commercially viable system to do it on the large scale that would be required at a power plant. The techniques already developed would be too expensive.

A key reason is that carbon-capture systems use 25 percent or more of the power the plants produce, which drives up the costs.

One goal of the project at the KU plant in Mercer County is to test ways to cut that so-called "parasitic load" by at least 20 percent, making carbon removal less expensive, Andrews said.

"It comes down to, can we make it affordable?" said Len Peters, secretary of the state Energy and Environment Cabinet.

The project will give researchers and regulators a much better idea of the costs of capturing carbon from emissions, Peters said.

"We have to solve this problem if we want to be able to build coal plants in the future," he said.

The project is the first of its kind in Kentucky. Construction has begun on a system that will take out some emissions headed for a towering smoke stack, then use a solvent to strip out carbon and heat to boil off the mixture and concentrate the carbon into a liquid.

The goal is to begin operations in the fall. The hope is to have some study results in 2016, said John Voyles, a KU vice president.

The project will not include storing the carbon, which is another cost in systems to take carbon out of power-plant emissions. Carbon removed in the research ultimately will go back up the stack and into the atmosphere.

The project is estimated to cost $19.5 million. It is being funded with $14.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, more than $3 million from the state, and contributions from KU and other utilities.

UK's Center for Applied Energy Research is leading the research, with Kunlei Liu as the principal investigator, but there are a number of partners.

Peters said the technology being tested at the Brown plant as more efficient than the system American Electric Power tested at a plant in West Virginia.

The company halted the research in 2011, largely out of concern that regulators would not let it pass on the costs to customers.

Spending money to continue burning coal has been an increasingly controversial issue in recent years.

Nachy Kanfer, deputy director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign for the region that includes Kentucky, said the club did not oppose research like the project at KU's Brown plant, though the club would argue as a general principle that it's better to spend taxpayer money to develop renewable energy than on coal.

However, if KU or other utilities seek higher rates to pay for retrofitting existing coal plants with carbon-capture systems, that's when the Sierra Club and others would question whether it would be less expensive to reduce carbon that way or through other methods, such as retiring the plant, Kanfer said.

Others argue that if their emissions could be cleaned up, it makes sense to keep existing coal plants running.

"Existing power plants are very valuable assets," Andrews said.

It isn't clear how complying with tougher air-quality rules will affect electricity prices in Kentucky.

The EPA estimated that the average electric bill would increase by up to 3.2 percent in 2020 under one option in its proposal to cut carbon emissions from existing plants, then go down by more than 8 percent by 2030 because of increased energy efficiency and other factors.

However, that estimate was not specific to Kentucky, which now has lower electricity rates than most states.

That has been a plus for manufacturing. State officials have raised concerns that meeting emissions rules could push up electricity prices and cost the state jobs.

Many of Kentucky's coal-fired power plants are older, making the state first in the nation in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of electricity produced from all sources, according to one study.

Cutting carbon emissions in a cost-effective way is a critical issue for the state, Gov. Steve Beshear said at Monday's announcement.

"The health of Kentucky's entire manufacturing economy is highly dependent on our ability to continue to generate affordable, readily available energy," Beshear said.


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