Saturday, August 25, 2007

Kentucky passes synfuel incentives for coal industry, amid warning of a reckoning

The Kentucky General Assembly this week passed new incentives for plants to make synthetic fuel from coal, over objections of Appalachian residents who said the bill, among other things, would lead to more strip mining of coal through mountaintop removal. But their pleas did find some receptive ears, writes Ronnie Ellis, the Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. correspondent in the state capital of Frankfort.

"Tom Fitzgerald of the Kentucky Resources Council . . . warns a day of reckoning is coming when mandated reductions in carbon emissions which are warming our planet will dramatically increase the costs of coal-generated electricity. Lawmakers respect Fitzgerald, courteously listen to him, and then vote against his counsel. At least they listen. And this week, it appeared others got through to lawmakers about the devastation of coal mining. Members of the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth were eloquent and moving in their condemnation of coal and its effects on their lives and the environment – eloquent enough that several lawmakers asked to go and see for themselves."

Ellis gives the pro-industry arguments from coalfield legislators, and sums up with a song lyric from a friend: "As a flatlander who has never depended on the livelihood provided by coal mining nor lived near its destruction, I don’t possess any answers. There seems a high price for coal but its backers promise a high return. Still, the debate this week reminded me of a lyric in a song Mitch Jayne wrote for The Dillards: 'Promises are words for things they never do. Mountains are promises come true.'" (Read more)

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