The Richmond Register

Viewpoints

May 18, 2013

Coal problem worth tackling in Washington and Frankfort

FRANKFORT — Despite hysterical cries from radical environmentalists, neither Sen. Rand Paul’s Defense of Environment and Property Act nor Sen. Mitch McConnell’s Coal Jobs Protection Act would allow activities that bring harm to Kentucky’s wildlife or waterways for the sake of propping up the coal industry.

Instead, these bills put definite limits on a federal bureaucracy that has run roughshod over Kentucky’s constitutional right to regulate its own internal commerce and energy sectors.

The consequences of the Environmental Protection Agency’s newest regulations – especially its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, a rule the EPA claims offers direct benefits of up to only $6.2 million but that carries a price tag of $10 billion – have been severe for all-too-many Kentuckians forced to deal with the economic side effects of the politically fueled policies coming out of Washington these days.

In 2012 alone, Kentucky’s coal industry lost 22 percent of its mining employment. Eastern Kentucky and Appalachian miners were explicitly targeted by the EPA, and experienced a 30-percent decline in employment.

Overall, mining production in Kentucky declined by 91.4 million pounds.

Cause and effect, anyone?

A new report from the Bluegrass Institute reveals that energy prices in the commonwealth are set to rise by 20 percent during the next decade – in no small part due to nonsensical EPA mandates.

Not only will this will take an obvious toll on Kentucky families, but it also places one of Kentucky’s most important economic competitive advantages – low electricity costs – in jeopardy.

Just how long will businesses in other industries like steel and aluminum – and the jobs they provide – remain in the commonwealth if rates start climbing? 

“More than anything, I think this report shows how important coal is to all Kentuckians – not just those in Appalachia,” said Philip Impellizzeri, co-author of the report entitled “2013 Bluegrass Energy Report: The EPA’s Economic Impact on Kentucky.” “The EPA's handling of our energy sector concerns all of us.”

Kentuckians want clean drinking water and crisp, breathable air. But they also want the more than 4,000 coal jobs back lost last year – and then some.

Sometimes these are conflicting goals, and nothing comes free. But it’s the local citizens most affected by these issues and their elected officials who should be balancing them.

Also, there needs to be an acknowledgement that some states may be doing a better job with reducing pollution than others.

The new report reveals that Kentucky during the past couple of decades has achieved a substantial decline in emissions that contribute to air pollution. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions are down by more than 70 percent.

So, what must be done to protect Kentucky’s energy sector from the ever-encroaching fist of the EPA?

Kentucky’s senators have done a fine job taking a stand for our coal miners in Washington. Now, it’s up to state lawmakers to do their part.

This coming Tuesday at an event hosted by TACKLE in Louisville, I will be debating environmental attorney Tom Fitzgerald on the merits of a new model bill sponsored by the Bluegrass Institute that declares in no uncertain terms that coal mined, sold and used exclusively within the borders of the commonwealth is under the sole jurisdiction of state environmental officials, not federal, far-away bureaucrats.

Such a state of affairs would have a profound impact on the economic potential related to the one-third of Kentucky coal that remains within the borders of the commonwealth.

The coal problem is huge but can be solved – through a balanced approach that places the needs of Kentuckians ahead of the ideological bias and incompetence of Washington’s regulators.  

Jim Waters is acting president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com. Read previously published columns at www.freedomkentucky.org/ bluegrassbeacon. 

1
Text Only
Viewpoints
  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Compromise is not that simple

    It’s tempting for a casual onlooker to wonder why the Democratic House and Republican Senate can’t make what on the surface looks like the obvious compromise on pension reform.
    The Senate passed a measure based on recommendations of a task force to move new employees into a hybrid, cash-balance plan but maintain existing defined benefits for current employees and retirees.

    March 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Frankfort plays ping-pong with public pension transparency

    Legislation that would make the Kentucky Retirement Systems transparent for those paying its bills has danced into the spotlight during the 2014 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
    Passage of transparency bills filed by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia, and Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington, would make the “names, status, projected or actual benefit payments” subject to our commonwealth’s superlative Open Records Act.

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jack Strauss-BW.jpg The case of the ghostly neighbor

    Wilbur lived in a world of fears. Everything frightened him. The full extent of his courage was to admit that he had none.
    Noises in the middle of the night, his own shadow creeping up on him and, most of all, black cats scared the wits out of him.
    So, picture his chagrin, one day, when he came home from vacation only to discover that a mausoleum had been erected on property adjacent to his home.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Provisional concealed-carry law passes Senate unanimously

    Things are staying busy in Frankfort. Many bills are making their way onto the Senate floor from various committees. This past week several important pieces of legislation were debated and passed.
    I am particularly proud of the success we had in advocating for Kentuckians’ Second Amendment rights.
    I introduced Senate Bill 106 to allow anyone who has been granted an emergency protective or domestic violence order to receive a provisional CCDW permit from the Kentucky State Police in one business day. In some of these cases, victims need this type of protection as quickly as possible.

    March 8, 2014

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg 50 years makes a world of difference

    I wasn’t in Frankfort on March 5, 1964, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, and Jackie Robinson led 10,000 on a march to the state Capitol in support of a public accommodations law.
    But a few months later, I stood in front of the “Music Hall,” site of the Glasgow Junior High School located on a street named Liberty, and watched black kids “walk up the hill” of College Street on the first day of integrated schools in Glasgow.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • 02.23 Mike Duncan mug.jpg Coal has kept Kentuckians warm this winter

    This winter, temperatures across the country dipped to historic lows. Here in our home state of Kentucky, the near-arctic climate caused increased power demand which resulted in an incredible strain on the electric grid and rising energy costs.

    March 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Protecting citizens’ data is a no-brainer

    Target Corp. is learning the hard way: The price is steep for retailers who don’t protect customers’ sensitive financial information.
    Target’s profits fell a whopping 50 percent during its fourth quarter of 2013 as the result of a massive security breach involving as many as 110 million of its customers’ credit- and debit-card accounts, which began the day before Thanksgiving and extended throughout much of the holiday shopping season.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Making plans for spring planting

    My brother Keith (Keeter) probably planted peas on one of those warm days last week, and I would not be at all surprised to find out that brother Steve did likewise to try to be the first two fellows in Letcher County to actually be digging the soil in their 2014 gardens.
    Keeter’s father-in-law, the late Dock Mitchell, used to get my brother to drive him a 50-mile round trip to get pea seeds and potting soil for early February planting. Dock raised mammoth melting sugar snow peas and sugar snaps around every fence on the place. 

    February 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Cynicism, optimism both on display in Frankfort

    Those who spend little time in Kentucky’s Capitol and who read columns by cynics who cover it should be forgiven their disillusionment about how the people’s business is conducted.

    February 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Even Scrooge would enjoy library mystery

    Saturday afternoons and evenings are usually down time for Loretta and me.
    We simply don’t get out much after we’ve used up the movie gift certificates the kids gave us for Christmas. That means we mostly go to the movies to avoid guilt trips because our kids do work hard for their money.

    February 20, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should the Richmond City Commission stop rezoning property to allow construction of apartments?

Yes.
No
     View Results