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LETTER TO THE EDITOR
As we know, Kentuckians as a culture largely avoid change. On November 8, 2016, Kentuckians went against the nearly 100 year grain and elected a Republican majority in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Kentuckians are ready for a change in House leadership that will bring about a new direction for our Commonwealth through more jobs and business opportunities.
In Kentucky, I have been involved in business ventures for decades, some of which were more easily obtained than others. But all had a great growth potential for our Commonwealth. The new House Republican super majority campaigned on the promise of bettering the business environment in Kentucky, therefore creating more growth across the board. Along with Governor Matt Bevin’s pro-economic growth direction and Senate President Robert Stivers’ pro-business agenda, I look forward to House Republicans completing the puzzle to set and deliver a pro-business and pro-jobs growth agenda for the future of the Commonwealth.
As a state, we must become competitive with our neighbors to attract new businesses. It’s a new day in Kentucky, and I’m confident our new leadership will foster fresh ideas within the government to enable the Commonwealth to flourish and to spotlight the natural benefits of things like our geographic location that position us to lead the way.
For many years I have worked on projects with Speaker-Elect Jeff Hoover. He is a pro-business, pro-jobs, pro-family growth leader who is poised to deliver to Kentucky the new direction it so much deserves. I am excited about the new opportunities that we are all faced with. I am encouraged by the direction and tone Speaker-Elect Hoover has set and know he will deliver.
Great things are on the horizon and 2017 is the beginning of a new, better Kentucky.
Former Kentucky Secretary of Commerce 2003-2005
When Tom FitzGerald calls something “the most reckless regulatory program I have seen proposed in my 36 years of practicing environmental law,” that’s a superlative that should set off alarms.
FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council, was referring to a proposal from the Bevin administration that would exclude the public from even being notified when electrical utilities are planning to build or modify disposal sites for the tons of waste generated by coal-fired power plants.
Under the proposed rule, utilities could begin building or modifying landfills or waste-holding impoundments without any review by the state environmental agency of the design, siting, operation or plans for future monitoring. And the public would have no way of raising concerns or commenting.
This approach would upend decades of environmental and public protections. It also conflicts with Kentucky’s own waste-management laws.
The potential for catastrophic pollution is real, as the people of Kingston, Tenn. discovered around this time eight years ago when a dike failed on a Tennessee Valley Authority coal-ash impoundment, dumping more than a billion gallons of sludge on the neighbors and into the Clinch River, requiring a $1 billion cleanup.
But the pollutants in power-plant leftovers — including toxins lead, arsenic and cadmium — can also slowly contaminate groundwater and streams through leaks and leaching.
Coal ash can pollute the air, as neighbors of LG&E’s Cane Run power plant in Louisville know too well. “Blowing ash and odors plagued a nearby residential neighborhood for years, prompting repeated fines by the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District,” reports The Courier-Journal’s James Bruggers. That landfill is being closed after the utility replaced the coal plant with one fueled by natural gas.
The Environmental Protection Agency has never classified coal-combustion waste as hazardous in part because it’s produced in such huge volumes. That is an argument for more oversight not, as the Cabinet for Energy and Environment is proposing, less oversight.
The EPA last year approved more stringent standards for disposing of coal combustion waste, but nothing in the new federal rule compels states to gut processes that allow potential problems and risks to be identified and remedied before permits are issued and utilities begin construction.
The proposed regulation appears to relieve utilities of responsibility for posting bonds to pay for cleaning up future problems or closure costs, even for existing landfills or impoundments, which means that in practical terms the risks would probably end up borne by the public and local communities.
As FitzGerald points out, the only recourse when the new standards are violated would be lawsuits by the state and public after problems have arisen and been documented. Then, the cost of fixing the problems would be passed on to Kentucky consumers in the form of higher electricity rates.
Even though President-elect Donald Trump has promised to revive the coal industry, his selections for three key cabinet positions all favor natural gas, the main cause of coal's decline, Curtis Tate reports for McClatchy Newspapers. That could spell bad news for people in struggling coal communities, especially in Appalachia, where Trump won handily largely on the strength of his pro-coal stance. "Trump won handily in coal-producing regions that have been hardest-hit by the transition from coal to natural gas, especially those in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania," Tate notes.
Trump has tabbed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry for energy secretary. Tate notes that all three oppose President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, "which would reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by a third by 2030, primarily by taking aim at coal-fired power plants. But all three men have been big promoters of the production of natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, and the resulting abundance of cheap natural gas has displaced a large volume of coal in the nation’s power sector."
"Pruitt, one of the first state attorneys general to take the Obama administration to court over the Clean Power Plan, testified before a House of Representatives subcommittee earlier this year that natural gas had done more to cut carbon emissions than any federal regulation," Tate notes. "Tillerson projected that global demand for natural gas would rise by 65 percent from 2010 to 2040, diminishing the importance of coal worldwide."
"Perry, who was governor of Texas from 2001 to 2015, oversaw a massive shift from coal to natural gas that’s still occurring," Tate writes. "In 2010, the two fossil fuels generated about an equal amount of the state’s electricity. By 2015, natural gas fueled 48 percent of Texas power, while coal had slipped to 28 percent, according to the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas." (Read more)
Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 12/15/2016 09:41:00 AM
By Glenn Mollette
I was saddened when I saw the report of a group of little children hiding in a basement in Aleppo, Syria. Sadly this is where most of Aleppo's remaining children are located. They are holding on to life, hopefully another day.
Many of us grew up loving the Santa Claus story and honestly I'm still holding on just a little bit. I don't have a big list for him. However, most of what I'm hoping for is really out of Santa's league.
Santa Claus is good for fun and games. I asked Santa for some games when I was a kid and received a Password game and a game called Mystic Skull. Those were fun games. I also asked Santa for a plastic bowling ball set. I got up on Christmas morning very early and it wasn't under the tree. My mother went to the hall closet and pulled out this big box and said, "Santa told me to put it in here until you got up from bed." I accepted that story as only a six or seven year old would do."
Christmas lists change with age. What I hoped for at five became very different throughout the years. I had wish lists pertaining to career, children and other aspirations. Today I'm so very happy to simply enjoy health, trips to the grocery store and a warm house. Amazingly what makes me happy today is far more complicated than when I was preparing my toy lists for Santa.
I once asked for a $29 white electric guitar for Christmas. My hard working coalmining daddy and mom were able to buy that for me. I was so happy. It seemed like I had just gotten everything in the world for Christmas. A few days later one of my relatives was visiting in our home and he was admiring my white electric guitar. He didn't make a lot of money but admired my gift and later commented that it was hard to buy many Christmas gifts on $20 a week. I felt a little bad about my beautiful guitar and sad for him. This was back in the day when decent money was $125 a week. Looking back I can now see more clearly that his perspective was that of a struggling adult.
I enjoyed that feel of being a little child. I didn't worry about healthcare. I didn't worry about having food to eat or paying all the bills. I didn't worry about sickness or life's longevity. I was free to enjoy the child's perspective of Christmas. Today as adults we are hammered with the harsh realities of life. We deal with the daily grind of life that includes all the pains of having enough money and enough health to enjoy Christmas. We have other family members who we agonize with and relate to in their struggles.
We also have national concerns. We are blessed in America where so much of what we enjoy is almost a miracle every day. With all that we see and hear about in Syria and so many other troubled places in the world surely to just sleep and live in peace has to mean everything to all of us. I think this is something we grow into in America. The news tonight about little children hiding in a basement in Aleppo fearing for their lives was heartbreaking. They hold onto hope of their lives being spared and maybe a better day. However, a night of peace and rest is almost inconceivable to them.
Whatever you have this Christmas in America cherish and respect it. Thank God for everything you have. The perspective of everything we have changes throughout life from a five year old child to someone barely holding on to life in a nursing home or a family huddled together in a basement in Aleppo.
Glenn Mollette is a syndicated columnist and author of eleven books.
He is read in all fifty states. Visit www.glennmollette.com