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Louisa-Lawrence Co, KY

In God We Trust - Established 2008

Editor &Publisher - Dr. Mark H. Grayson, (DoL) Hon. 2005 EKU
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On Monday we reported proposed cuts to funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting had been omitted from the deal on this year's federal budget, but the future of CPB funding and rural radio in future years remains unclear. The uncertainty worries WMMT, the radio station for Appalshop in Whitesburg, Ky., and listeners in Eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia and southern West Virginia. "If that station were to be shut down for lack of funding, it would really, really hurt this town," Whitesburg Mayor James Wiley Craft told Kit Seelye of The New York Times.

WMMT, an unusual public station in that it is not affiliated with NPR or a university, received $86,000, one-third of its budget, from the CPB last year. As we've noted more than once, rural radio stations that depend on federal funding to operate may be in danger of going off the air if their funding is cut. More than 20 rural stations, some of which are one Indian reservations, rely on CPB for over half of their revenue, Seelye writes. "This is the worst threat we've ever had because the economic climate is so bad for everything else," said Jim Webb, left, who hosts WMMT's "Appalachian Attitude." (NYT photo by Scott McIntyre)

While WMMT doesn't broadcast NPR programming and thus is not forced to defend NPR against claims of liberal bias, Craft said the station has at times been portrayed as anti-coal. "Some of the people who are there are associated with other groups" that oppose mountaintop removal, he said, "but those people at the state are intelligent enough to know which side of the bread is buttered. This area depends on coal 100 percent." (Read more)
Posted by Jon Hale

The Obama administration is offering grants and loan guarantees to rural gas stations for installing pumps for E85 pumps, the fuel that is 85 percent ethanol. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will offer grants and loan guarantees to cover up to 75 percent of the cost of installing equipment needed to dispense E85, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of the Des Moines Register reports. The hope is to place ethanol pumps in 10,000 stations within five years.

"About 2,300 stations nationwide are now equipped to sell E85," Brasher writes. "About 8 million cars and trucks on the road are equipped to use E85." Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release,  "Many folks who own these vehicles may have a difficult time accessing the necessary fuel." Retrofitting a station to supply E85 costs around $120,000, and many stations will see that as too much even with the federal aid, John Eichberger, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Convenience Stores, told Brasher.

"The government is offering you a $25,000 grant. Most stations only made $30,000 to $40,000 in pre-tax profit last year," Eichberger told Brasher. "You're looking at a pretty hefty investment." He says a better solution would be for Congress to certify existing equipment as able to supply E85 and other blends of ethanol and gasoline. USDA has restricted the aid to stations in communities with fewer than 50,000 people, one definition of rural. (Read more)
Posted by Jon Hale

Young miners show 'massive fibrosis' in study;
A new study refutes U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's recent statement that the coal industry has done well in reducing black-lung rates. The study from West Virginia University researchers, to be published in the peer-reviewed journal Chest, concludes "Contemporary occupational dust exposures have resulted over the last decade in rapidly progressive pneumoconiosis and massive fibrosis in relatively young West Virginia coal miners, leading to important lung dysfunction and premature death," Ken Ward Jr. of The Charleston Gazette reports on his blog Coal Tattoo.

Contrary to the Kentucky Republican's statement, the research means "Coal miners who are working in dust levels that are currently legal in this country are contracting and dying from serious lung diseases caused by their exposure to those legal levels of coal dust," Ward writes. Edward Petsonk, one of the study's authors, said at Wheeling Jesuit University's annual International Mining Health and Safety Symposium, "It’s still happening. There is a problem with miners’ health, and it is a current problem. This is no longer something that we can just sit on our hands about." (Read more)
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health chart of black-lung incidence rates:

Posted by Jon Hale