We ought to be able to run sewer lines from our houses to the nearest drainage opportunity. Overbearing government regulation is making the cost of building and maintaining homes unbearable and contributes to the decline in housing starts. The added cost of government regulation is a burden on our already frail economy and costs jobs.
Do you agree or disagree with the preceding statements? I think and sincerely hope that you disagree. The obvious degradation of the environment and property values would be enormous, in addition to the odor and public health risk. However that line of reasoning is exactly the one used in defense of the coal industry and against the Environmental Protection Agency actions on surface mining and reclamation.
Gov. Steve Beshear and Reps. Keith Hall, D-Phelps, and Jim Gooch, D-Providence, are all up in arms about the war on coal. They blame egregious regulation for the decline of coal use and resulting job loss in the coalfields. Cost is always a factor when producing any kind of product, and coal is not exempted. Just as housing is subject to environmental regulations that drive up the cost of a home, so is the coal industry. Just as public health is a factor in housing regulations, so is it a factor in regulating the coal industry.
The EPA has long been accused of not being active enough in regulating the coal industry, often leaving the leading role up to the states. The result has been ineffective enforcement, degradation of our streams and preventable injury to our citizens. The problem is that coal has never been subject to bearing the true cost of its production. This keeps costs down for the producer but passes those costs on to the citizenry at large in the form of contaminated water and increased taxation to clean up the mess and provide sanitary water.
Just as housing has been required to bear the costs of ensuring that the environment is unharmed, so should the coal industry be held to similar constraints. Will this drive up the cost of coal? Absolutely. Will this make coal users look at alternative fuel sources? Without a doubt. Is this a good reason to allow the coal industry to destroy the land and streams of the commonwealth. No way.
All production should have to bear the true cost of the product and that includes whatever is required to deal with the results of that production. If we have a problem with plastic bottles then plastic bottle production should bear the cost. That increased burden to the producer will result in research and development of new products and processes that will eliminate that burden and decrease costs to the consumer.
The increased availability of natural gas has rendered coal an undesirable if not obsolete fuel. The science that supports human-influenced climate change is nearing the undeniable, and for many it is already there. What will be the costs of droughts inundations and floods? The costs of basic sustenance will rise, and poverty and want will increase. The fact is that natural gas, while cleaner to use, still has its environmental hurdles to overcome.
The given reason that these politicians and their corporate sponsors have alleged a "war on coal" is to secure jobs for the residents of the coalfields. That is an enormous load of horse hockey. The reason is to secure profits and the massive contributions to campaigns that the industry makes. If our leaders had dealt with the obvious, we would not be in this position now.
For more than a century, robber barons have come into our state and pillaged the wealth of natural resources that Kentucky has been blessed with. The sad story is that Kentucky has not benefited from those industries but is left, in many cases, with little more than a Superfund cleanup site. A strong case can be made that these industries overall have been a net negative for the state. Sure, there have been some relatively high-paying jobs, but the cost of repairing the degradation of these jobs has yet to be counted.