Thumbs up; thumbs down, Nov. 21

Published 9:29 am Tuesday, November 21, 2017

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No third-party data for coal ash pond case

This weekend, we reported on a lawsuit over pollution allegedly leaking from a coal ash pond into Herrington Lake. Kentucky Utilities’ has made a motion to dismiss the lawsuit because it’s working with the state on a “corrective action plan.”

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The corrective action plan process was triggered after testing near the E.W. Brown Generating Station found, among other things, that nine out of 10 fish samples collected near power plant, where the coal ash pond is allegedly leaking selenium into the lake, contained levels of selenium and arsenic above acceptable limits.

Since then, a biologist hired by plaintiffs suing KU over the pollution has determined his evidence amounts to a “smoking gun” pointing the finger for the pollution at KU’s coal ash pond.

KU, meanwhile, says they question that study and are still conducting tests of their own. As part of the corrective action plan process, the state is actually allowing KU to do its own testing of water in Herrington Lake, which will then be used to decide what to do. The state says they will consider the evidence collected by the biologist, as well.

We’re not going to be surprised in the slightest when KU’s data suggests the coal ash pond cannot be connected to the pollution in the lake. Would you be surprised?

It seems a lot of the data the state will be considering in deciding what to do will have come from one “side” or the other — from groups who have sued and believe the pollution is coming from the coal ash pond, and from KU, which has an economic incentive not to spend more than it has to on remediation.

What’s really needed here is independent data from someone not paid by either side. If state regulators think they’re successfully controlling water quality by doing anything less, they’re kidding themselves.

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Eliminating the Federal Historic Tax Credit

Boyle County should be up in arms over the proposals to eliminate or cut in half the Federal Historic Tax Credit. That credit, put in place while Ronald Regan was president in 1986, lets people who restore historically significant buildings claim up to 20 percent of the cost in tax credits.

This has numerous benefits: Obviously, the person doing the restoration work saves some money. But the public benefits from keeping a piece of their history around. And when these restored buildings come back to life, they often bring economic activity with them, benefitting the local community and generating new tax dollars the government wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

In their haste to “reform” taxes, it seems federal legislators ignored all this. The House tax plan would eliminate the tax credit entirely and the Senate plan would halve it to 10 percent.

We have a great program already in place that has been enormously successful for more than three decades. So why are the only options from Washington “let’s get rid of it” or “let’s just get half the success we’ve been getting?”

As difficult as it is to get federal legislators to care about anyone except lobbyists and donors, they do listen when there’s enough of an outcry that they think it might hurt their election chances.

Boyle County has tons of historic buildings and history is one of the main attractors to the area. The future looks like tourism, bourbon and business — all of which benefits from and grows better in a historically rich community.

So Boyle County residents should be making sure their outcry is heard, so that we can continue saving our history and growing our economy. Here are the federal legislators representing Boyle County:

• Sen. Mitch McConnell: (202) 224-2541

• Sen. Rand Paul: (202) 224-4343

• Rep. Brett Guthrie: (202) 225-3501