Back in 2010, a handful of community groups sought to join a legal dispute between the state government’s Energy and Enviornment Cabinet and a company, Frasure Creek Mining. A Judge allowed the action, which then complicated the Beshear administration’s Cabinet plan to settle with the mining company… because, you know, the citizens’ groups didn’t want to settle, they wanted justice. Crazy, right?
Beshear’s cabinet and the mining company then filed to remove the citizen’s from the lawsuit so they could do their behind-closed-doors Frankfort wheeling and dealing like normal.
Well the state’s Supreme Court just ruled that in fact the lower court judge was absolutely correct in allowing the groups to join the suit and while your duly elected Governor might see this as a loss, people who appreciate democracy will see it as a victory:
The high court unanimously found that Judge Phillip Shepherd did not err in allowing Appalachian Voices, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky Riverkeeper, Waterkeeper Alliance and three citizens to take part in a suit brought by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet against Frasure Creek Mining.
The groups sought to intervene to object to a settlement between the state and Frasure Creek, which operates coal mines in Pike County, over the discharge of pollutants into the Kentucky, Big Sandy and Licking rivers and their tributaries.
Because the trial court has jurisdiction to permit the Citizen Plaintiffs a limited intervention, and because the propriety of that intervention under Kentucky law can be challenged and assessed in the ordinary course of trial and appeal, the Court of Appeals correctly denied the Cabinet’s and Frasure Creek’s petitions for extraordinary relief. Accordingly, we hereby affirm, the Court of Appeals’ Order in these consolidated cases.
All sitting. All concur.
Boo-hoo for coal bought politicians, woo-hoo for the rest of us.
“Canadian regulators seek to make energy production safe, while the Obama administration’s regulators often seek to make it impossible,” said Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, the Republican chairman of the subcommittee.
Whitfield, no expert on Canadian regulations let alone on creating jobs in Kentucky (the Keystone XL Pipeline doesn’t create any jobs for Kentucky), was unbowed in the face of Canadian testimony to the contrary:
Melina Laboucan-Massimo, an aboriginal Canadian and advocate from Greenpeace, told lawmakers that Canadian governments have shown little respect for environmental laws.
“In reality Canada and more specifically the province of Alberta have a lax and failing environmental monitoring system with little enforcement for its own laws when it comes to producing the tar sands,” she said.
Critics of tar sands say its corrosive nature makes it more likely to cause pipeline failures. They also claim it’s more energy-intensive to utilize.
U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., who led the hearing, praised Canada’s environmental record, however, saying the United States could learn from its neighbors to the north.
Funny who Ed Whitfield believes we could learn from Canadians on some laws while, in the case of Universal Health Care, he believes the opposite.
As Whitfield leads the Republican Party’s effort to push through an unsafe pipeline plan on the American heartland’s water supply, the President is pushing back, restating what he’s said all along, that the pipeline isn’t a terrible idea if it’s done safely — something the Republican Party has zero interest in:
Obama is expected to publicly embrace part of the Keystone XL pipeline on Thursday by visiting a TransCanada facility and issuing an executive order on federal permitting of infrastructure projects that “will require agencies to make faster permitting and review decisions for vital infrastructure projects while protecting the health and vitality of local communities and the environment,” the White House said.
As for the portion of Keystone from Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast, the White House said Obama will “issue a specific memorandum in Cushing directing federal agencies to expedite the Cushing Pipeline.”
The White House has consistently said that Obama rejected the full Canada-to-Texas pipeline in January because Congress cut short the environmental review process and has cited bipartisan opposition to the proposed route through Nebraska.
The Whitfield/GOP line of debate is pushing two things here. They are now tying their incessant Keystone/Big Oil $$$ giveaway — something they’ve been trying to make resonant with voters for about a year — to the more recent issue of increased gas prices. Whitfield and the Republicans have long pushed the dangerous pipeline plan, the President has long pressed for a safer pipeline plan, and now that gas prices are soaring, Kentucky’s own Ed Whitfield is trying to tie the two together:
With gasoline reaching $3.86 a gallon in the U.S. and apparently heading higher, the public is impatient for Obama — or someone in his place — to do something about it.
In truth, a president has little direct control over gas prices, which have risen more than 50 cents a gallon since January in response to a standoff over Iran’s nuclear program that has threatened to disrupt Middle East oil supplies.
Well aware of Republicans’ criticism, Obama’s advisers argue that voters take a sophisticated view toward energy and think about it as a problem demanding long-term answers. They know that talk about future solutions may not satisfy people as they endure high prices, but they’re betting that voters will side with the candidate they trust the most to deal with the issue — and they’re determined that that will be Obama.
While this is yet another example of how the state of Kentucky is controlling the political dialogue of America — a state of 3 million dictating the policies governing 300 million — it is also a further exercise in the Republican Party’s deceitful approach to reality.
Gas prices are now at $3.86… but in the 2008, under George W. Bush — after 8 years of deregulation and expanded, reckless drilling — gas hit a high of $4.27.
The reality is that the President can’t really control the price of oil.
The reality is the Republican Party is lying when they claim domestic production will magically create lower gas prices. They are motivated by their allegiance to the oil industry, which just gets richer and richer. And they are ignoring the facts.
More U.S. oil production doesn’t mean consistently lower prices at the pump, the analysis found.
Sometimes prices increase as American drilling ramps up. That’s what has happened in the past three years. Since February 2009, U.S. oil production has risen 15 percent when seasonally adjusted. Prices in those three years went from $2.07 per gallon to $3.58.
U.S. oil production is back to the same level it was in March 2003, when gas cost $2.10 per gallon when adjusted for inflation. But that’s not what prices are now. Instead, Americans are paying the highest gas prices ever for March.
That’s because oil is a global commodity and U.S. production has only a tiny influence on supply. Factors far beyond the control of a nation or a president dictate the price of gasoline.
But don’t mind the facts, America.
Just thank Ed Whitfield and the state of Kentucky for leading you down the path to ruin. Again.
The Republican Party (with the help of some Blue Dogs) are trying to turn coal into an election-season issue, according to the Rush Limbaugh of print media, The Washington Times. Speaker Boner wrote a tear-blotched letter to the President citing exaggerated statistics from the Coal Industry as a evidence that Obama is destroying America.
“These rules, the most expensive in EPA history, stand to cost 180,000 American jobs per year and would force the premature retirement of 12 percent of America’s coal-fired energy generation,” he said.
Mr. Boehner’s comments were based on a report sponsored by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and released in September.
In late February, a bipartisan group of 219 members of Congress led by Reps. Ed Whitfield, Kentucky Republican, and John Barrow, Georgia Democrat, sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget calling for a stop to the EPA’s greenhouse gas rule-making.
“Affordable, reliable electricity is critical to keeping and growing jobs in the United States, and such a standard will likely drive up energy prices and threaten domestic jobs,” they wrote.
As you see there, Ed Whitfield is again leading the charge. Bought and paid for by the energy industry, Whitfield continues to be one of the most vocal leaders in Washington pushing the industry friendly agenda at cost to actual living breathing people and in benefit to non-breathing corporation-people.
Hal Rogers isn’t one to get left behind, so he too is playing this game, though his latest salvo was an incorrect observation about snails and the XL Pipeline which provides no jobs for Kentucky and is justified on drastically overblown industry statistics (you don’t say!) on “job creation” while putting the heartland’s water system at great risk.
“Talk about snail’s pace,” Rogers said at a hearing on the State Department’s 2013 budget, musing that a snail could have crawled the route of the proposed pipeline, from the Canadian border to the Gulf Coast, within the 40-month review period.
“That’s one speedy snail, Mr. Chairman,” responded Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton’s right. It would take the average garden snail about 67 months to crawl in a straight line from the Canadian border to Houston.
For all you Republicans (or your Republican friends) who think Rogers, Whitfield and Boehner are right-on and that corporations conducting studies on behalf of themselves would never lie to them, the GOP Presidential race continues to prove that Mitt Romney is a compromised candidate not to be trusted. As The Politico reports, green-friendly billionaire Republican forces have given millions to Romney’s campaign and Super PACs, betting that could Romney win the Primary and then the Election his recent gravitation to a hard-right, pro-coal, anti-environment stance (which is directly at odds with his actual record and yet further evidence no conservative should trust him let alone vote for him), then Mitt Romney would flip-flop his position and sell out the very energy industry he’s currently so passionately defending:
Other green-minded financial backers may not be giving as much as Robertson, but they still share the view that climate-change science and a solid environmental agenda wouldn’t be a lost cause if Romney won the White House.
“My feeling is that on these issues that people learn,” said former Gov. Thomas Kean (R-N.J.), who maxed out last fall to Romney with a $2,500 check. “And my hope is, as time goes on, he will understand that not everybody agrees on how you deal with these issues, but I hope he will agree with 99 percent of the scientists who believe this is an issue that we have to deal with.”
….Rob Sisson, president of the Republicans for Environmental Protection, said he’s scraping together personal funds to write a check to the Romney campaign after getting a chance to meet him for the first time last month during a town hall campaign stop in Kalamazoo, Mich.“I think his record as governor was pretty good as far as Republicans go,” said Sisson, who also gave $1,000 last June to Jon Huntsman’s campaign. “I really get the sense from him and the folks around him with whom I’ve spoken that as president he’d really look at each situation, gather the data and really make a decision that’s best for the country.”
“If that goes against the grain of how he’s campaigning now, so be it.”
Happy Hour For The Mountains after the rally 4-8 pm, Al’s Bar, FREE. Food, Music, Good Friends: 2/3 Goat, Warren Byrom, and Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble.
Here’s something else to do this lovely day — Sign this:
Republicans (lead, as usual, by the great Kentucky delegation) are leading the charge to bring back the XL Pipeline and while our two current Senators aren’t ever going to listen to you, you can still tell them like it is… so sign it!
Thursday, Feb. 9th: Film Screening — Dirty Business: “Clean Coal” And The Battle For Our Energy Future // @ Homegrown Press 7 pm, FREE, 574 N Limestone
Friday, Feb. 10th: I Love Mountains Oldtime Music Showcase with Rich & the Po’ Folk, Karly Dawn, Little Sarie & The Hillfolk, Sugar Tree, The Jarflies, Carrie Jean & Sylvia Rose // @ Al’s Bar, $10, 8 pm
Saturday Feb. 11th: Legislative Letter Writing Party Hosted by The Morris Book Shop. Featuring Kentucky Authors and Musicians. Starts at 12 pm
And more — check the facebook list for full details — including Monday’s “Dine for the Mountains” during which 10% of all food and drink sales at Third Street Stuff, Al’s Bar and Stella’s will go to KFTC.
Tuesday, February 14th is the big day. I LOVE MOUNTAIN DAY!
Earlier this month, the White House announced it would delay any decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would mine the tar sands of Canada and run through America’s heartland, passing over a major source of country’s water systems.
People who like to water plants and livestock with non-polluted water have objected to this plan and over the summer engaged in a series of headline-grabbing protests in Washington, putting an equal pressure on the President as was coming from the Koch Brother/far-Right forces aligned in support of the pipeline.
And while the pipeline doesn’t appear to come to Kentucky or create jobs here, Kentucky’s Congressional Delegation is still, strangely, going all in to fight for the big money interests. Weird, right?
Six senators including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have crafted a plan that requires a State Department permit for the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline within 60 days unless the president publicly determines that it is not in the national interest, according to a summary.
A group of Republicans in the House of Representatives called Friday on the US administration to speed approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from Canadian tar sands to the United States.
….The House measure would call on US authorities to act within 30 days to issue a permit for the pipeline, after which the project would be considered approved by default.
Ed Whitfield, chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, said at a hearing Friday the lawmakers were acting as “a direct response to the administration failure to issue a permit for the pipeline.”
“The president had a golden opportunity to take bold action and create jobs for America and he declined to do so,” Whitfield said.
The move caught some leaders in the mining industry off guard. Kentucky Mining Association President Bill Bissett said he was unaware of any issues the industry had with Campbell.
“Commissioner Campbell’s relationship with Kentucky’s coal industry was a professional one,” Bissett said. “There were issues where the commissioner agreed with the industry’s position and issues where he disagreed. What we appreciated was his frank demeanor in communicating his position as well as maintaining that ongoing line of communication.”
Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council, praised Campbell’s service as an environmental regulator and called the firing “very disturbing.”
“Commissioner Campbell has done an excellent job during this most recent stint as commissioner under very difficult circumstances,” FitzGerald said. “One would have hoped that in a second term, the Beshear administration would want to create some legacy more meaningful than just having lasted eight years.”
He added: “We’ve seen significant damage done to the environmental programs and significant politicization of the management of these environmental programs in this administration.”
By the end of the week, that voice of reason had seen enough. Tom FitzGerald, head of the Kentucky Resources Council, sent Governor Beshear a letter resigning from his position on two state boards, the Kentucky Environmental Education Council and the Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship.
I am writing to inform you of my decision, effectively immediately, to step down from my appointments to the Kentucky Environmental Education Council and the Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship. While it has been a privilege to have served as a Board member for the Council and the Center, and while I am most appreciative of the opportunity that you gave me to serve in both of those capacities, I cannot in good conscience continue to serve as your appointee to either Board in light of the current Administration’s environmental and energy policies.
The serial budgetary reductions in general funds for environmental protection programs, which over the course of the last four years have amounted to some 26%, have placed a tremendous strain on the administration and enforcement of core air, water and waste programs, and continue to compromise the ability to properly implement programs for which Kentucky sought delegation and to which Kentucky committed it would provide sufficient funding. That programs intended to protect the building blocks of a healthy commonwealth and economy – the air, land, and water resources – are not considered by your Administration to be priorities with respect to allocating budget decisions, is of grave concern. That only one of those programs (Title V air permits) collects from regulated sources the fees necessary to offset the cost of regulation, leaving the taxpayers to subsidize other pollution control programs through general funds, is indefensible.
The recent firing of the Department for Natural Resources Commissioner brought into sharp relief my growing concern that the Administration has lost its bearing regarding regulation of the coal industry. The promise made by Congress to the residents of the coalfields in 1977 that they would be fully protected from the adverse effects of coal mining, that the land would be contemporaneously reclaimed and the footprint of mining minimized, has yet to be kept, and the removal of the Commissioner at a time when his office was attempting to increase reclamation bonds to appropriate levels (despite resistance within the industry), to implement the cumulative hydrologic impact assessment process properly for the first time in 29 years, and to stem the disturbing trend of towards greater numbers of violations within the coal industry (the rate of industry compliance in FY 2010 was the lowest since 1990), is disturbing.
It has been an honor to be a member of the Board of the Kentucky Environmental Education Council, which plays a critical role in elevating environmental literacy in the Commonwealth, yet has suffered budget reductions that if left unremedied will weaken its ability to do so. The Board and staff of the Council are remarkable and are dedicated to fulfilling the Council’s mission. I will continue to support the mission of the Council, and would encourage your Administration to restore the funding that has been diverted from the Council.
The Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship has, unfortunately, done little since its establishment other than adopting operating procedures, and the goals set out by the General Assembly for that Center remain almost entirely unmet. That the current Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary indicated at the last Board meeting he would not participate in a proposed strategic planning process through which the Board might focus on how to achieve the mission envisioned for it by the legislature, suggests to me that absent a greater degree of independence in funding and Board management, the Center will play a marginal role in helping to move Kentucky towards a sustainable energy future.
In closing, I thank you for the opportunity to have served on the Boards of the Kentucky Environmental Education Council, and the Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship.
This morning’s Herald-Leader Editorial follows this turn of events:
Energy and Environment Secretary Len Peters has given no reason for firing Campbell, who has said he does not know the reason.
Peters’ choice to replace Campbell will be revealing.
Also revealing will be what happens to the initiatives cited by FitzGerald.
There’s little recourse when a coal company fails to properly reclaim a mining site and has posted an insufficient bond.
Brett Guthrie reveals the President’s secret plan:
“He goes to North Carolina yesterday and says the Republicans answer is dirty air, that’s not true and it’s unworthy of the presidency.”
Representative Guthrie says he doesn’t want dirty air, but regulating the EPA is very expensive and would affect many Kentuckians.
“They’re trying to put coal-power plants out of business, that’s ninety-five percent of Kentuckians energy, that’s why we have cheap energy.”
There are a couple things wrong with Mr. Guthrie’s reasoning:
1. “They” are not trying to put coal-power plants out of business. This industry claim, parroted by Republicans (and our Governor and Congressman), is couldn’t be more misleading. An energy industry consultancy group released a report on this very subject earlier this month. They studied the Obama administration’s EPA regulations and the purported ‘disastrous’ effects on the industry. They found:
Contrary to some projections that indicate environmental regulations will severely impact U.S. coal production, ICF projects that U.S. coal production and prices will remain stable. In particular, demand for low sulfur Powder River Basin coal and low-cost, high-sulfur Illinois Basin coal is expected to be strong.
Clearly, then, if Mr. Guthrie and company know that the EPA regulations won’t destroy the coal industry, then what other motivation do they have in trying to destroy the EPA? Either it’s about maximizing profits for their cronies, or its about dirtying our air.
It’s Brett Guthrie who’s unworthy of the job of protecting people.
2. The only ones putting the coal industry out of business are the coal industry themselves. Or, depending on how you look at it, G-d.
Coal here is getting harder and costlier to dig — and the region, which includes southern West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee, is headed for a huge collapse in coal production.
The U.S. Department of Energy projects that in a little more than three years, the amount of coal mined here will be just half of what it was in 2008. That’s a significant loss of a signature Appalachian industry, and the jobs that come with it.
“The seams of coal that are left in this area are harder and harder to mine, and they’re thinner and thinner and thinner,” said Leonard Fleming, a retired Kentucky miner and union leader in Letcher County who worked in the industry for 32 years.
The fact that Kentuckians get over nine tenths of their electricity from coal is fine and all, but it’s not going to do us much good in a few years. You can’t mine what’s not there… which is one reason the mining companies have their minions, like Brett Guthrie, fight to destroy the EPA. If they would just get off our backs, we could flatten the Appalachians and siphon out what little remaining coal we can find.
And if that dirties the air in the process… let alone all the other health ramifications… then Brett Guthrie is for it.
3. There are actually a lot more than a couple, but Brett seems a little slow so we’ll leave it here for now and keep it simple for him.
There was a good story out over the weekend that serves as a friendly reminder to any Kentucky Dems still stubbornly denying their own party is controlled by global-warming deniers and environmental enemies. (No, really, some of them are still out there, insisting that Ben and Steve deserve our support and usually they get very defensive when you mention this topic. It’s sad.)
The Environmental Protection Agency has shouldered much of the blame from Kentucky politicians for the struggling economy during the 2011 campaigns.
Both Democrats and Republicans have criticized the EPA for what they see as job-inhibiting regulations.
The refusal of 19 mine permits in eastern Kentucky prompted Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to plead with President Obama – both in person and through a letter -to relax EPA policies to relax EPA policies to allow the mines to open.
Let’s pause here for a moment.
For as great as this article is, it’s taken Governor Beshear’s word for the fact that he “pleaded” (like, down on his knees with tears streaking his face and his hands clutched together in subservience?) with President Obama “in person.”
As we have already pointed out here, only the most gullible person could actually believe Governor Beshear’s wildly unlikely story about giving Barry O the what-for — in just about 90 seconds, Beshear claims (lies, really) he insulted the President’s intelligence, told the President a bunch of stuff about infrastructure the President already knows, accused him of being an ineffective leader (pot, kettle, if ever there was…) and then started yelling at the President about the EPA. [Read all about it.]
If that story actually happened the way Beshear claims it did, he wouldn’t deserve your vote because everything expressed is offensive to your personal beliefs but instead because to cover all that in 90 seconds with the President of the United States, Steve would have to be out of his gourd crazy, a screeching, fast-talking wild-eyed beast not fit for office.
But. Enough about all that. Let’s get back to the article about the Dems colluding with the GOP to poison you by rolling back EPA regulations and environmental protections because the EPA and the Muslim President are killing all our jobs:
But reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other organizations show government regulations account for a small portion of job losses.
Ohhhh. Oh. Wait. So both the Republican Party and the Kentucky Democratic Party are lying or stupid. That’s reassuring.
Let’s hear from each of you!
The furor over the EPA and other federal regulations will only get louder, said U.S. Rep Geoff Davis, R-Hebron.
“I think the battle of regulations is a turning point over what America will become,” Davis said. “American people have lost transparency in the reach of the regulatory state.”
Davis, of course, is the draintrust behind the REINS Act, the GOP’s #1 “Jobs” Bill that does nothing to create jobs but does a lot to poison our air, poison our water and increase corporate profits.
Both candidates for attorney general, Republican Todd P’Pool and Democratic incumbent Jack Conway, have said they believe the EPA has overstepped its bounds in Kentucky…..
“The EPA says your runoff has to be the equivalent of distilled bottled water,” P’Pool said. “That’s like suggesting the speed limit should be 5 miles per hour.”
Conway said he’s already challenged the EPA on several issues, including filing suit in 2009 against the EPA’s attempt to regulate carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
The article grazes over Rand Paul next, but everyone knows where Rand stands on this issue, so let’s skip ahead…
[Bruce Scott, commissioner for the Department of Environmental Protection] and Kentucky Coal Association president Bill Bissett testified this week before state legislators on the detrimental impact the delay of these permits has on Kentucky.
….The EPA found few allies among the state legislators at the hearing this week. “It is clear what their agenda is,” said Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence. “Their agenda is to stop coal mining.”
That’s good. Governor Beshear’s appointed Environmental “Protection” czar is hanging with King Coal. Way to go, KDP! Let’s all pat ourselves on the backs.
Hmm. Backs. Oh, right. It’s that time again:
You may want to read the rest of the article, especially if you’re a damned fool who’s been elected to public office and keeps on insisting that getting rid of the protections that keep people safe and alive will some how create jobs. It’s farcical, but that’s what our Democratic and Republican leaders are claiming.