Front Porch Blog

Tree-Lover Gooch?

Kentucky made headlines this week, when the great Gooch! (Rep. Jim Gooch) – Chairman of Kentucky’s House Natural Resources and Environment Committee – held a hearing challenging the validity of global warming. Its been noted that Gooch has been friendly to coal interests for years.

Yesterday, Gooch denied any suggestion that he favors coal interests over ecological concerns

“I care as much about our environment as anybody,” he said. “I’m a tree lover. Not a tree hugger necessarily, but a tree lover.

But this time, other Democrats tossed around the idea of removing Tree-Lover Gooch from his chairmanship.

“It’s a good thing the writers are on strike in Hollywood so we don’t wind up on the late-night comedy shows again,” said Rep. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee. “His committee meeting was a laughable farce — or it would have been, if it wasn’t so scary.”

The eventually decided to keep Tree-Lover in his chairmanship position, and Kentucky will continue to have its beautiful mountains and natural resources defended by Mr. Flintsone Gooch.

But, as much as he loves trees, might his financial dealings present a conflict of interest?

Gooch, 56, and his brother own West Kentucky Steel Construction Co., which sells mining equipment to Peabody Energy, Arch Coal and other coal companies.

Gooch, who consistently wins re-election in his district with about 75 percent of the vote, has taken at least $11,750 in coal-related donations for his modest campaigns since 1998.

We’ll keep you posted.

In a related story, Kentuckians rid themselves last week of Governor Ernie Flecther, a champion of mountaintop removal mining. Well, we’ve yet to understand if Governor elect Beshear will improve environmental standards around the state.

It might be a long-shot, as Beshear’s position is that “ we only need to practice the mountaintop removal we need to practice.

The candidates also went head-to-head about regulations on mountaintop removal and damages to the environment that this form of mining causes.

“I think it is important to limit the times when mountaintop removal is used,” Beshear said. “We have to keep it as an exception, as a rare time when companies aren’t required to restore the land they disturb, and not as the general practice.”

Fletcher agreed that it is important to enforce the laws that are in place to protect the mined areas.

“I think we do a good job of enforcing those land restoration regulations,” Fletcher said. “I believe the land in most of those areas has been well restored. Yes, the mountain sees significant change, but that happens with floods and with glaciers or tornadoes or in any case of a natural disaster.”

Sweet. A glacier.





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