Rural Blog: National, state statistics show EPA head Scott Pruitt’s claims about coal jobs are false

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt’s recent claim that coal jobs are up 20 percent this year is false, according to national and state figures. Pruitt made the claim during an interview with Louisville’s WDRB-TV last week. Scott Pruitt U.S. Department of Labor numbers show that there were around 50,000 coal mining employees in January 2017 and 51,200 employees as...

Rural Blog: Coal’s future still bleak as utilities shift to cheaper natural gas, wind and solar power options

“A year after Donald Trump was elected president on a promise to revive the ailing U.S. coal industry, the sector’s long-term prospects for growth and hiring remain as bleak as ever,” Timothy Gardner reports for Reuters. “A Reuters review of mining data shows an industry that has seen only modest gains in jobs and production this year – much of it from a temporary uptick...

Sam Shepard chose to die in rural Kentucky, where people in Midway always respected his privacy

By Al Cross The Rural Blog Tonight on Broadway in New York, the lights of theater marquees will go dark for one minute to honor Sam Shepard, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, author, screenwriter, director and Oscar-nominated actor, who died Thursday at 73. In one small town in Kentucky, spirits are already dimmer, because folks there remembered Shepard as a good neighbor, and one whose privacy...

Rural Blog: House Appropriations Committee votes narrowly to lift federal ban on horse slaughterhouses

Congress is making another attempt to restart the slaughter of horses in the United States. The House Appropriations Committee voted 27-25 on July 12 to remove the 10-year-old congressional ban on use of taxpayer money for horse-slaughterhouse inspections by the Department of Agriculture. A key vote was cast by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart a South Florida Republican who had voted for the ban until recently....

EPA won’t delay new rule aimed at protecting farm workers from pesticides despite AFBF request

Rejecting requests from the American Farm Bureau Federation and state agriculture departments, the Environmental Protection Agency says its new rule designed to protect farmworkers from pesticides will take effect Jan. 2, as scheduled. “The rule includes a host of new requirements to protect the nation’s 2 million farmworkers, including annual training (instead of every five years) for...

Gallup poll shows older Americans happier in Hawaii, Arizona; Kentucky near bottom of list

The Rural Blog Older Americans are happiest in Hawaii and least happy in West Virginia and Kentucky, says the annual index of well being by The Gallup Organization. Following Hawaii, other states with high well-being scores for people 55 and older were Arizona, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Colorado. At the other end of the spectrum, Kentucky was 49th, ahead only of No. 50 West Virginia, with Oklahoma,...

The Rural Blog: Magazine looks at finer points of how barrels play a role in taste of bourbon

Special to KyForward   Making the perfect batch of bourbon often depends on the barrel, and where it’s placed and what weather and temperature conditions it endures. It’s something bourbon makers have been grappling with for 2,000 years, as they try to produce gold. In a story for The Atlantic, Wayne Curtis looks into the science, in some cases accidental science, of bourbon making.   Barrel...

The Rural Blog: Many states, especially in the South, still allow schools to paddle students

Nineteen states, in red, have laws permitting corporal punishment in schools, according to the nonprofit Center for Effective Discipline, which provided this map.   Special to KyForward   It’s still not uncommon for school officials, especially in the South, to get out the paddle and discipline a student with corporal punishment. The practice is legal in 19 states (including Kentucky),...

The Rural Blog: House set to consider bill allowing limits to Saturday mail delivery

By Al Cross Special to KyForward   A U.S. House committee is set today to consider a bill, written by its chairman, that would grant the U.S. Postal Service its wish to limit Saturday mail delivery to packages. The bill appears likely to pass the full House, but last year the Senate passed a bill that would extend full Saturday delivery for two years. The Postal Regulatory Commission has recommended...

The Rural Blog: House defeats Farm Bill; food-stamp cuts spell doom for alliance

By Al Cross Special to KyForward   The old rural-urban alliance that married farm and nutrition programs failed to get a Farm Bill through the House this afternoon. The bill lost 195-234, with food stamps apparently the main issue.   The House seemed ready to pass the bill this afternoon “after the Agriculture Committee leadership agreed to a sweeping en bloc amendment Wednesday night...

Tiny town’s vote for fairness ordinance shouldn’t be so surprising, native writes

By Ivy Brashear Special to KyForward   The city council of Vicco, Ky., passed a fairness ordinance earlier this month with little local fanfare. There were no protests, no letters to the editor in the local newspaper, The Hazard Herald, no Westboro Baptist Church members holding offensive signs on Vicco’s one street corner.   The council passed this law the same way it approves the city...

Tiny town's vote for fairness ordinance shouldn't be so surprising, native writes

By Ivy Brashear Special to KyForward   The city council of Vicco, Ky., passed a fairness ordinance earlier this month with little local fanfare. There were no protests, no letters to the editor in the local newspaper, The Hazard Herald, no Westboro Baptist Church members holding offensive signs on Vicco’s one street corner.   The council passed this law the same way it approves the city...

The Rural Blog: Many rural movie houses
may close due to costs of digital transition

By Ivy Brashear Special to KyForward   The film industry announced last year that it would no longer make film copies of its movies, and would only provide digital versions, forcing theaters across the U.S. to retire their 35mm projectors and go digital. That switch is not cheap, since digital projectors cost tens of thousands of dollars, and some small theaters would have to pay hundreds of thousands...