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Thumbs up, Thumbs down: August 7

School shooter training

Friday’s active shooter drill at Boyle County High School was hard to watch at times. Even though everyone knew it was fake, it was impossible not to imagine if it were real.

Some may feel uncomfortable with drills like this. They don’t want to think about the possibility of students or school personnel dying in a tragedy. That’s understandable — we all wish we lived in a world where school shootings didn’t exist and all students, parents, teachers and staff had to worry about was good education.

But we don’t live in that world; we live in this one. If we had avoided the uncomfortable problem, we would still be just as at-risk for a school shooting, but more at-risk for worse outcomes if it ever happened here. By facing the music and pushing our system of emergency response to its limits, we’re actually safer and better off than we were before.

If a shooting does happen, law enforcement officers will be able to find and neutralize the shooter quicker; those in the school will be able to move to safety faster; EMS and fire personnel will be able to treat any wounded better; hospital staff will be more prepared for an influx of people in need of care. Ultimately, fewer people would die.

There’s another benefit, as well: This drill has gotten people talking. It’s made more people aware of the counseling services available in our local school districts. It’s got them thinking about the resources necessary to keep our children safe.

The drill improved communication among our first responders, but it also increased communication about these important topics among everyone else. And communication is one of the best ways we can help prevent school shootings before they even happen.

Bunny Davis mural

The Soul of 2nd Street Festival has always been cool, but it got even cooler this year with a surprise mural of the legendary Bunny Davis by well-known street artist ARCY.

Davis holds several firsts for African-Americans in the state, but his impact on Danville and Boyle County goes well beyond those factoids. ARCY’s mural

is a win-win for Boyle County and the artist himself: We gained a wonderful mural of one of our most important historical figures; and ARCY learned a lot about Bunny Davis from the people most directly impacted by him.

We don’t know what’s in store for next year’s Soul of 2nd Street, but we’re already looking forward to it.

Pipeline rehearing denied

In late July, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission denied a request to rehear the case concerning Tennessee Gas Pipeline No. 1, about 20 miles of which runs through Boyle County.

We’ve opined about FERC before and won’t rehash everything again, especially since the denial issued by FERC is more of the same anyway: The regulatory agency refuses to accept the idea that it should care what happens with the pipeline after it’s no longer used for natural gas.

FERC has consistently argued it doesn’t have the legal authority to stop the plan to use the pipeline for natural gas liquids (NGLs) — byproducts of fracking that are heavier, more explosive and more toxic than natural gas. That fact is far from settled in the minds of many who worry the pipeline could cause devastation anywhere along its 964 miles if it leaks: they point out correctly that FERC is allowed to consider the environmental impacts when deciding whether to green-light the massive energy infrastructure projects it regulates.

Even FERC admits it’s using an element of discretion in choosing how to handle the case. It states as much in its denial of rehearing, while discussing why it believes abandonment of the pipeline for natural gas and repurposing the pipeline for NGLs are not “similar actions:”

“… an agency has more discretion in deciding which actions to include in its environmental review.”

In other words, FERC says even if it did have the power to deny abandonment if the NGL plan isn’t proven safe enough, it doesn’t want to. It doesn’t even want to check and see if the plan is safe enough.

The many critics of the pipeline plan from Boyle County have often characterized FERC as nothing more than a “rubber stamp” for the energy industry’s desires, which offers little real regulatory protections for the U.S. citizens it’s supposed to protect. FERC offers zero evidence to the contrary in its denial.