Sentinel-Echo.com

April 1, 2014

My Point Is... The war in Kentucky

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — During the era between 1861 and 1865, Kentucky was considered a “border state” during the Civil War. A failed Confederate attempt to take the entire state forced Kentucky to seek protection by the Union forces but it remained a site where the term of “brother against brother” was truly applicable.

But now, over 150 years after the Battle of Gettysburg and nearly 149 years after the signing at Appomattax, there is a civil war taking place in Kentucky once again.

This war doesn’t involve the north and south. Instead, it is a war between the state of Kentucky and Washington D.C. This war has been brewing for over 20 years and began with the reduction of the tobacco industry during the 1990s.

Since that time, the warfront has spread to multiple areas of Kentucky’s heritage. Road construction through the mountainous areas have come under fire by the Environmental Protection Agency and put many families in the online unemployment filing population as the debates between the state and federal government agencies took their time to reach a decision.

Recreation such as fishing, boating and camping has been attacked by the “endangered species” concerns at lakes and rivers throughout the Commonwealth, but especially in the southeastern region. Ditto for the forest areas across the state where proposals of new roadways have come to abrupt halts in many places due to supposed endangered species.

The coal industry is the latest ruination of the state as political leaders term this natural resource as “dirty” and unsafe. This action leaves many more Kentuckians without means to support their families as their jobs are eliminated.

But even if new jobs are created for the former coal miners and their families, at what cost will that affect them? Industries such as automotive parts production carry as huge a risk of health concerns as the coal industry. Dust, noise, and chemicals used in these work mills cause cancer, breathing problems and loss of hearing just as coal production caused many cases of lung cancer and breathing difficulties. Attempting the weigh “the lesser of two evils” still results in millions of dollars in health care costs every year. Even in the “safe” factories, bodily injuries occur, sending many former employees to the disability status.

Over the past two decades, Kentucky’s heritage has been attacked from nearly every possible angle with each protest from the two representatives in our nation’s Capitol. Opposition to the health care proposal and a staunch defense for the state’s resources and heritage have resulted in an all-out war on the state and the people who live and want to work here.

When this war will end and on what terms remains to be seen. But with the way things are going, the resilience and perseverance of Kentuckians may well continue to be tested until some resolution is reached — and probably only through a new administration at the helm in our nation’s Capitol.

 

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com