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What we think: Coal support resolution was a waste of time

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Shelby County Fiscal Court spent time on a resolution to support the coal industry, but we don't understand why it's county business.

We found it curious last week when Shelby County Fiscal Court took meeting time and office time to develop, distribute and pass a resolution supporting the coal industry in Kentucky and decrying strict enforcement of regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency.

We don’t have a problem supporting an industry that is at the core of the economy in parts of Kentucky and contributes heavily to state tax coffers.

We just wonder why it’s a matter of business for the citizens of Shelby County, because coal is hardly a big entity here.

Yes, we recognize that the resolution was drafted and sent to all county governments by the Kentucky Association of Counties, of which Shelby is a member. We also have a problem understanding why KaCO is representing the interests of a single industry in a statewide referendum.

Certainly in heavy coal counties such as Harlan, Muhlenberg and Pike there should be multiple resolutions establishing the best interest of their residents.

But why in Shelby County was this a priority?
Shelby County officials cite the fact that U.S. 60 is considered a route for coal – although we can’t begin to suggest how many decades it has been since we’ve seen a coal truck passing between Frankfort and Eastwood – and certainly the trains that move through the county have coal cars as part of their cargo.

Yes, that’s Shelby’s predominant connection to the industry, that’s our residents’ routine investment. It hardly seems significant enough to devote our leaders’ time and energy to creating, copying, reading and passing a resolution to support it.

Certainly the coal industry and the EPA are locked in a duel of wills that has divided the public based on the greater good. It has become a hot political issue that was mentioned often during the 2011 race for governor and will continue this fall.

Coal companies want to operate with less-stringent environmental controls than those that were put in place because coal companies historically have not been good stewards of the environment or even the safety of their own employees.

Much of that has been cleaned up, to be sure, and the coal industry has many benefits to the state of Kentucky. Whether it should receive a lighter touch from the EPA is a matter for another day – if ever.

Because we live in Shelby County, and we don’t really have much knowledge of that industry or feel in any significant way affected by its issues. Shelby Energy may buy its power from coal-burning plants, but we fortunately don’t have to breathe the air those plants pollute.

We have our own environmental issues here – such as a need for countywide public recycling – that we don’t feel the need to resolve to support the coal industry in its moaning match.

And that’s the position we would expect of our leaders.

To do otherwise feels a whole lot like politics and a whole lot less like government.