Legislature fulfilled its obligation on road plan, funding
Despite our good-faith efforts, the General Assembly finds itself unnecessarily called back to Frankfort by the governor for an extraordinary session over the lack of funding for the road plan.
Following the process outlined in KRS 48.300 and consulting with the Transportation secretary, the House and Senate developed the road plan and its companion funding bill.
Both chambers passed the road plan in an overwhelmingly bipartisan manner and sent it to Gov. Steve Beshear for his signature.
On the last day of the regular session, the governor himself called the road plan "acceptable" and with no objections raised, both the House and the Senate waited for him to sign it.
He refused and instead called the General Assembly back for a special session.
Apparently, the governor wanted us to pass the funding bill but not wait to see the road plan signed and thereby allow him to veto the plan (he cannot line-item veto according to Section 88 of the Kentucky Constitution) while still keeping the money.
To do so would have provided the governor with a $4 billion blank check to spend as he pleased and would have shirked our responsibility as a co-equal branch of government.
The governor has yet to tell the General Assembly what he plans to do with the road plan. In the best interest of all Kentucky, the governor needs to make a decision.
If he signs the road plan, the funding bill is ready to go. If he vetoes the road plan, then the General Assembly can pass a new one. The choice (and the responsibility) is the governor's.
Senate President Pro-Tem
Twisted on Keystone XL
I have just received a curious letter from our fearless leader of the Senate informing me of a wonderful thing to solve our problems: the Keystone XL pipeline.
He also tells me that I agree with what they love to call their "shovel ready" antidote, since I contacted him with my concerns.
Alas, Kentuckians know better than to ask him to consider anyone other than his large corporate energy interests.
In fact, back in 2011 I left a message on his Louisville office voice mail (oh, for the days when his local staff were accessible) asking to inform the senator that I opposed a threat by Republicans, that they wouldn't raise the debt ceiling unless the pipeline went through.
When this didn't fly, our senator made it a condition for the payroll tax continuation, after attempts to block that.
Now that that is forgotten and gas prices are no longer as cheap as when he tried to block the continuation of the payroll tax, he has included me in his cheerleading for the pipeline.
If only he and his staff were correct that the oil from Canada would belong to this country, since multinational energy companies can send it to other shores.
So, sadly, the focus of our brave senator is not mine. Of course, it costs him nothing to send me his tardy solutions, but it is an overstep to tell me that I share his beliefs.
Christians in Appalachia have a special connection to the land. Many families have stories of living on the same land for generations.
The mountain streams are the source of baptismal waters. Many rely on the land's bounty for daily bread. When the land is desecrated, the people's spirits are crushed and livelihoods destroyed.
Recently, I sat with a group of college students in Huntington, W. Va., and heard what this land means to them — a special place in their sense of who they are and where they come from.
Repeatedly, they said it is important for us to take care of the land — not only because that is good stewardship for God's creation, but also because that is the only way we can promote justice for our neighbors.
If mountaintop removal mining practices can harm these neighbors physically, economically or spiritually, then it is our duty to speak out.
And harm it certainly does: Thousands of Appalachian communities in poverty, 1.4 million acres of forest destroyed, 2,000 miles of headwater streams destroyed, 501 mountains leveled, mudslides, flooding, crop loss, increased birth defects, respiratory disease and cancer.
The recent court decision keeping the Environmental Protection Agency from blocking the Spruce Mine 1 permit is yet another reminder of the continued priority we give to cheap energy over God's planet and people.
As a Christian, it is vitally important to provide opportunity and rebirth to Appalachia now, and for its people for generations to come. It is time to end mountaintop removal mining.
Fallacy of more drilling
"Drill, baby, drill" is not the total answer. The presumption is that if we use more of our own domestic crude oil the price of gasoline will drop significantly. However:
1. The price of crude oil continues to be the overwhelming factor in the price of gasoline.
2. We in the United States are currently importing 50 percent to 60 percent of crude oil from other countries.
3. Among the largest sources of crude oil imports is Canada, which sits on the world's second-largest reserves.
We import approximately 11 percent of our needs from Canada (and about 8 percent from Saudi Arabia).
With their ability to export oil, Canada can "drill, baby, drill' in its own country for its own gasoline needs.
Converting to U.S. dollars and lowering its gasoline taxes to ours, Canada's gasoline cost is $4.11 per gallon — slightly higher but not much different than the U.S. prices.
So what can we conclude?
■ The price of crude oil is apparently determined by the market — no matter if internally generated or imported.
■ The oil companies are probably not discounting gasoline that uses much of our own domestic oil but instead use only the market price for crude oil to determine their profits and gasoline pricing.
■ "Drill baby, drill" will only increase oil company profits without reducing or impacting the price of gasoline at the pump.
Bob N. Naydan
A tough sell
Mitt Romney wants to run the United States as a businessman. He wants to slash wages, eliminate retirement benefits and cut way back on health care. And not just for government employees, but for everyone.
As for education, he paid for an expensive private education and thinks everyone else should, too. Although this is all presented as "tough love," it's really "tough noogies."
To say this all in other words, voting for Romney is the same as voting to repeal The Golden Rule.
Douglas S. Andersen