- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:


Sept. 17

Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader on the black lung:

That black lung was making a comeback among coal miners has been known for a while. What’s shocking and disturbing are newly published findings about the severity of the resurgent disease in Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia.

The prevalence of the most severe form of black lung, progressive massive fibrosis, is as high now in Central Appalachia as it was more than 40 years ago right after Congress enacted the first law aimed at protecting miners from black lung. That’s according to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that was published this week.

With effective dust control and worker protections in mines, black lung is preventable. By the late 1990s, the most severe form had all but been eliminated.

The study found that the resurgence is especially pronounced among Central Appalachian miners - and not just those who work underground. The most severe form of the disease, which is incurable and torturous, is also appearing in surface-mine workers.

The study’s authors attribute the increase to two causes: overexposure to dust or increased toxicity stemming from changes in dust composition.

As Central Appalachia’s coal has been depleted, miners must cut through more rock to extract coal from smaller seams, releasing more dust and more kinds of dust, including silica, long recognized as a cause of respiratory disease.

Black lung’s comeback is just one more example of how the cost of coal mining has become prohibitive in Eastern Kentucky.

Resource depletion has pushed up production costs, rendering the price of Appalachian coal noncompetitive with coal from other regions and natural gas, leading to mine closures and unemployment.

The industry’s monetary costs pale beside the suffering of miners stricken with black lung and their families who struggle to care for their sick and dying loved ones and survive the loss of income.

Last year, an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity revealed that coal companies have employed underhanded legal tactics to deny black lung victims the benefits they are due. And the industry has long been notorious for evading dust control rules by tampering with dust monitoring and sampling.

Since 1968, the year before Congress enacted landmark mine safety and health legislation, black lung has been implicated in more than 75,000 miners’ deaths; the government has paid out $45 billion in black-lung benefits

For almost two decades, NIOSH has been recommending lower dust limits in coal mines, and, finally, this year the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration said it would phase in more protective dust limits.

The coal industry, which is challenging the new limits in court, contends they are unfair because black lung is not increasing in most regions.

A few years ago when another federal agency acted to protect Appalachia’s water from surface mining, the industry, along with the Beshear administration, sued, saying it was unfair to single out Appalachia for water protections not imposed elsewhere.

Now the industry objects to dust-control rules on grounds that only Appalachian miners will suffer and die without the extra protections. And the industry has long considered Appalachian miners expendable.




Sept. 23

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, on attending toll hearing:

Anyone traveling between Kentucky and Indiana - or vice versa - knows that construction for the Ohio Bridges Project is well underway. Narrowed lanes and traffic delays are two of the most obvious signs of the times (for some time to come … ).

Next week comes another mile-marker in the life of the bridges: A hearing for public comment on hiring a company to manage toll services for three interstate bridges (the Kennedy, and the new downtown and East End bridges). The hearing will be at 5 p.m. Sept. 29. Comments will be heard then, but the public also may submit advance comments.

As reported in The Courier-Journal, last week the bi-state board and the Indiana Finance Authority voted to move ahead in hiring Kapsch TrafficCom IVHS Inc. to maintain operations and supply equipment for gathering toll and vehicle information that involves electronic reading and transponders when the bridges open. It’s a $39.9 million contract whose services will span seven years.

Those interested in learning more about the contract, or making advance comments, can view the proposal at the finance authority’s website. The authority is expected to vote on the contract at its October meeting.

Comments can be sent via email to IFA Project Manager Silvia Perez at [email protected], or via mail to One North Capitol, Suite 900, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46204. Advance comments must be received by 5 p.m. Sept. 29, according to the website.

You can weigh in publicly at 5 p.m. Sept 29 at Sheraton Riverside Hotel, 700 W. Riverside Drive, Jeffersonville, Indiana. The hearing will be simulcast in Room 218A of the Founders Union Building on the University of Louisville Shelby campus, 9001 Shelbyville Road.

The public needs to put the public in this huge public works project, one that affects almost everyone in the region, by keeping up with its progress and how it’s being managed.




Sept. 21

The Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Grimes’ ad:

Kentucky Secretary of State and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has done everything in her power in this race to distance herself from President Barack Obama.

She has tried to persuade voters across this state she’s not his candidate, but make no mistake about it - she is his candidate and would be a rubber stamp for him and his agenda if elected in November.

In a new TV ad, Grimes is shown shooting clay pigeons and in the course of the advertisement turns to the camera and says, “I’m not Barack Obama, I disagree with him on guns, coal and the EPA.”

Grimes would have you believe that because she makes an advertisement of herself shooting clay pigeons that she is pro-gun.

Another person who made an attempt at looking pro-gun was Obama. Who can forget the president awkwardly holding a shotgun shooting at Camp David to try to act like he is a gun-friendly president.

His actions as president reflect one of the most anti-gun presidents this country has seen in decades. What can one expect from a president who comes from a city with some of the strictest gun laws in the country, not to mention the highest gun homicide rate?

We bring Obama up because Grimes says she isn’t Barack Obama. These are her words.

Grimes claims she is pro-gun, but her past actions and support of Obama’s leftist agenda suggest otherwise. First, Grimes is on record saying she supports the national Democratic platform. Anyone familiar with the national Democratic platform should know that platform is anti-gun. Secondly, Grimes was a 2012 delegate for Obama’s re-election campaign.

In 2012, arguably before Grimes knew Obama was and continues to be an anti-gun president, she still acted as a proud delegate at his convention supporting his nomination for another term as president.

Make no mistake about it - Grimes is a foot soldier for Obama, through and through. She is a believer in his anti-gun cause. Now she won’t let Kentuckians know that, but we will let you know. As voters, you deserve to know who her deep pocket anti-gun donors are from Hollywood, Chicago and New York.

George Soros is one name that comes to mind that is a constant visitor to the White House. He is an anti-gun radical who has given the maximum amount of money possible to Grimes’ campaign.

Anti-gun activist and Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has maxed out his contribution to the Grimes campaign.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has signed an anti-gun bill into law that is called the strictest in the country. In April, O’Malley headlined a fundraiser for Grimes in Louisville.

In March, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a close friend of Obama, hosted a fundraiser for Grimes. Emanuel is on record as saying he is looking to set up “much stiffer” gun rules.

Emanuel is also on record as saying that he is looking to California’s much stiffer gun laws as “inspiration.”

These are just a few backing her campaign, but there are hundreds more just like them who are backing her anti-gun candidacy.

Don’t be fooled by Alison’s sporting clays TV ad.

She is Obama’s candidate. What is so insulting to voters is that Grimes expects them to believe that she is a staunch pro-gun advocate in spite of taking piles of money from those with an anti-gun agenda.

Nice try, Grimes, but we and the voters see through this publicity stunt. We see your true allegiance is to the national Democratic Party’s anti-gun platform, not the Second Amendment rights all Kentuckians are afforded and that most appreciate.

For the record, Alison Grimes is an NRA member, but also for the record, we believe candidates are more clearly defined by the company they keep.



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