Fracking fears are overblown
Note to local fearmongers: The greenest U.S. president, Barack Obama, is on record boasting about the boom in natural gas and oil produced by hydraulic fracturing, paving the way to greater energy independence.
In January U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said, "There are a lot of fears out there in the general public and that manifests itself with local laws or regional laws. ... There is a lot of misinformation about fracking. I think that localized efforts or statewide efforts in many cases don't understand the science behind it and I think there needs to be more science."
At a May 2013 press conference, Jewell discussed new regulations governing fracking on public lands.
"I know there are those who say fracking is dangerous and should be curtailed, full stop," she said. "That ignores the reality that it has been done for decades and has the potential for developing significant domestic resources and strengthening our economy."
Many jobs in Kentucky depend on cheap energy. For years plentiful, cheap coal has kept our electricity rates extremely low. Our economic advantage is quickly eroding.
Fracking can help maintain our energy advantage. Don't let fear dominate local and state decisions on this critical issue.
Hospital deal losers
Here is how the University of Kentucky and Shriners Hospitals for Children deal smells to me:
1. An influential developer wants to get his hands on the existing children's hospital property.
2. The University of Kentucky wants to get back into the big-time children's hospital business.
3. Within a few years, UK will freeze the Shriners out.
4. The children will be the losers.
I take issue with those, including perhaps our illustrious lawmakers, who complain that the most recent Federal Communications Commission ruling to regulate the Internet as a public service is an example of government overreach, job killing, socialism, etc.
These FCC regulations should have been promulgated in 1996. Telecoms have been fighting to reverse what little protection the 1996 law provides.
Most content from web pages travels as electronic blips known as TCP. Unlike TCP, UDP packets are connection-less. Once they are sent onto the Internet they might get lost in traffic — and no one will ever know, except for the user at home streaming a movie.
All that stuff we stream, movies, music, etc. is carried by UDP packets. When you hear talk about innovation, it is code for monetizing the Internet. Tracking of your activities and marketing to them causes a burden on Internet infrastructure.
Gone are the days we visualized the Internet as a worldwide library. Have you noticed how much more Internet advertising you must tolerate? This is pandering to society's lowest common denominator which gave television its "vast wasteland" notoriety.
If the telecoms want to innovate, they should get busy laying fiber to places like Lexington.
Coal no longer cheap
Florida Power & Light is going to buy a coal plant to shut it down ASAP and save ratepayers $70 million.
The closed plant will be replaced by a mixture of natural gas and solar power.
This is not a war on coal but shows that coal is not economical anymore.
In 1988, FPL signed a long-term contract to buy power until 2024 from Cedar Bay, a 250-megawatt coal-fired plant in Jacksonville. FPL wants to buy the plant and operate it just 5 percent of the time until a new natural gas pipeline to Florida is completed. Then FPL will shut the coal plant down seven or eight years early.
The utility estimates that even paying $520 million for a plant that it does not want will still save $70 million by switching from coal to high-efficiency combined-cycle natural gas and solar power.
Cheap natural gas, burning cleanly in up to 61 percent efficient combined-cycle natural gas plants is just cheaper to burn than coal in a 32 percent efficient plant with pollution controls and coal ash disposal problems.
It is not personal, just business.