The Lexington Herald-Leader editorial page took note of Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell’s continued description of a Democratic “war on coal,” this time during the confirmation hearings of President Obama’s choice to be head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy.
Then they started counting.
Turns out there are more coal miners nationally under Obama than under President Bush — and more coal miners in Kentucky. That’s true even with the large number of layoffs in Kentucky recently and as production in the region fell.
Eastern coal’s problem is that it is now more expensive that coal from the large strip mines in the west or natural gas. A lot more expensive.
The paper concludes: “McConnell can blame Obama and the EPA for driving up the cost of coal, but the real culprit is 100 years of mining that has left only thin seams in Eastern Kentucky that are costly to mine. This explains why employment rose as production fell.
If McConnell was a real friend of coal, he’d be leaning on the EPA to hurry up regulation of fracking. Natural gas burns cleaner than coal. But some of the largely uncontrolled extraction methods that created the natural gas glut pose a substantial, yet still undetermined, risk to water, air and human health. That said, it’s delusional to hope for a big coal industry rebound in the mountains.”
Health Care Reform and Hospitals. Sarah Kliff writes in The Washington Post that the 1,500 “safety net” hospitals that provide care to the most uninsured patients could face a tough time under new health care reform laws.
“Under the Affordable Care Act, the safety-net hospitals will gain a new source of revenue when millions of the uninsured gain coverage,” Kliff writes. “At the same time, the law’s spending cuts could prove challenging for hospitals that tend to operate with relatively small profit margins.”
Role Reversal. Republicans have long called for the sale of the Tennessee Valley Authority (as Jim Branscome story in the Yonder recounts). But now that a Democratic president has proposed such a thing, Republicans are objecting. Republicans all over and around the Tennessee Valley are saying that government should go slow in ridding itself of what President Eisenhower called “creeping socialism.”
Commodities. Monday will also be known as the day that commodities fell.
A Pulitzer. Congratulations to InsideClimate News for winning the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. Reporters for ICN have done extensive reporting on pipeline safety. Many of these stories by Elizabeth McGowan, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer have run in The Daily Yonder.
To see more on their work, go here.