Coal companies have no right to question fairness
Regarding Bill Bissett's Nov. 22 column, "Coal industry deserves a fair shake":
When coal industry operatives such as Bissett, the Kentucky Coal Association president, start pleading for fairness, I have to start wondering if they know the meaning of the word.
What he describes as some mysterious vendetta on coal is simply an effort to bring the industry in line with 21st century standards of environmental protection.
Bissett deserves praise for drama, but his analysis of the Cambrian Coal Corp. case and its effect on the broader industry is a factual vacuum.
The Cambrian case is about whether or not a company will have to comply, like any other mine, with laws that protect the waters we rely on every day. The commonwealth has a legal obligation to protect streams, and in this case failed to meet that obligation.
No matter how many abstractions you want to throw out there, fairness is in the eye of the beholder. Is it fair that people endure dry wells, crumbling foundations and flash floods, and are expected to keep quiet to protect their neighbors' paycheck?
Is it fair that communities have to endure dangerous truck traffic and choking dust that robs children and elders of their health? Is it fair that children have to bathe in contaminated water they can't drink?
I want things to be fair also, but in our world, fair means fair to everyone. Stop brokering the wholesale destruction of our homeland to the highest bidder.
In the Nov. 22 column "Coal industry deserves a fair shake," Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett asserts that the coal industry is not "getting fair treatment" and, further, the Beshear administration and Environmental Secretary Len Peters did the right thing when they overturned a recent court ruling regarding a Cambrian Coal Corp. mine in Pike County.
In late September, an administrative law judge ordered an immediate stop to mining operations at a 791-acre Cambrian Coal surface mine near Elkhorn Creek in Pike County. In his order, the judge noted the failure of the permit to account for the mine's discharge of pollutants into Elkhorn Creek and other streams during mining operations as illegal.
Several days after the ruling, the Beshear administration and Peters took action to overturn it, thus allowing Cambrian to continue mining despite the reportedly illegal impacts.
As a Kentuckian, I find the assertion by the coal association that the industry is a lawful entity with a long-term streak of "unfair" treatment absolutely puzzling, if not insulting.
To start, Big Coal is heavily embedded in the state's politics; political contributions from the coal industry to the Beshear administration are enough to make any reasonable human question "fairness," especially in light of decisions like this.
Furthermore, let's take a look at the "lawfulness" of the coal industry in Kentucky.
Anyone with a dash of research skills will immediately find violation upon violation, many of which are never addressed or much less enforced by the administration or Peters' cabinet.
Driving north on U.S. 23 recently toward Boyd County, I got a call on my cell phone. There was no place to pull over safely due to the pieces of retread tires with metal sticking out lining the road, another bonus of furnishing everyone "cheap, clean coal."
Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett addressed a committee in Frankfort when he first left Marshall University. There he made his statements that coal was not a health hazard.
The coal industry spends millions misleading Americans, money that could be spent finding ways to eliminate carbon and other toxic emissions that are harming our children's health and destroying the future of life on Earth.
Only recently did Lawrence countians become aware that we had one of the most dangerous coal ash pits in the state, situated near the power plant. It has been spread on icy roads and added to concrete for years.
Bissett sees nothing wrong with dismantling our mountains, pushing the tops into the streams, killing the fish, causing flash floods, forcing the wildlife into our yards and roads and creating those wonderful sludge ponds, one of which caused the biggest environmental disaster in the Southeast.
Oh, but we have been promised super benefits for destroying our land and heritage: growing elderberries for a jelly factory and the big cattle ranch in Martin County (a flop), plus those many Wal-Marts and airports we don't need.
What we have really gotten are bad roads, bad schools, bad politics, bad health and the worst poverty level in the state.
Patty F. Wallace
"Where's Dee?" Remember the catchphrase in the Mitch McConnell ads, bloodhounds and all, looking for Democratic Sen. Walter "Dee" Huddleston in 1984, criticizing Huddleston's attendance record? It was the year McConnell first won election to the Senate.
Now, Republicans complain an $85 billion "earmark" in defense spending is not enough to approve a nuclear weapons reduction treaty.
At a time Republicans pledge to eliminate earmarks altogether, "Where's Mitch? Rand Paul? Jim DeMint?" How about approving it for free?
Robert Perry Jones
The real losses
The election of Rand Paul to the U.S. Senate is a good reason to hang my head in shame at being a native Kentuckian.
Any time Paul's name makes headlines, people all over the world will have an image come to mind of Tim Profitt stomping that young woman's head. Nice.
If Paul thinks all that money he got from Karl Rove (Paul outspent Jack Conway 5-to-1) to get him elected came with no strings, he is in for a big letdown.
If Paul thinks business should be absolutely left to do as it pleases, he should see the documentary called Inside Job. Hello, remember the recession?
I am unable to comprehend shortsightedness of an electorate that blamed all its pain on the past two years. The middle class has been shrinking for 30 years, ever since Reagonomics.
In the first five years of the George W. Bush administration, median middle-class income dropped by $1,300 while expenses due to health insurance, energy and education rose collectively on average by $5,000.
Those are indisputable facts. But you won't encounter facts if you remain glued to Fox.
What bothers me most is not that our country is becoming a plutocracy — it is that we are a plutocracy already. Why can't middle-class people get this?
In January 1980, the Herald-Leader did a story about my daughter, Bethanie Bretz.
She was in the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center and had brain tumor surgery. The cancer was malignant and grew into three areas of her brain. Bethanie was only 7 years old.
I just wanted to let everyone know that on Thanksgiving Day, she turned 38 years old.
She has had a tough time, but she is still with us. We sure do have a lot to be thankful for.