Government/Politics
3:54 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

SOAR Summit, McConnell Hearing

House Speaker Greg Stumbo is hoping the state legislature takes a big step next year towards helping eastern Kentucky upgrade its transportation network. The Prestonsburg Democrat spoke today at the first SOAR Conference in Pikeville…

Stumbo also says a pilot project to provide college scholarships to students in the coal regions should be made permanent. He says more than 400 students have already received assistance under the program and 91 have graduated.

SOAR stands for “Shaping Our Appalachian Region” and it’s an attempt to help improve the area’s economy, which has been devastated by layoffs in the coal industry.

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Southeastern Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers says it’s vital that people rally to support the thousands of miners who’ve lost their jobs in the coal industry in the last two years. The Republican says the hearts of Kentuckians ache for the difficulty they’re facing during the holiday season…

Rogers says he prefers to think of unemployed coal miners as people primed to become the best electricians, engineers, mechanics and machine operators in the world. He spoke at today’s SOAR Summit in Pikeville.

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The president of Morehead State University’s Student Government Association sees three things are critical to improving the economic fortunes of eastern Kentucky. Andrew Abbott was part of a panel discussion on “Youth Leading the Way” during today’s SOAR summit in Pikeville.

He says early education, entrepreneurship and development of a stronger manufacturing base are essential to a more prosperous region…

Abbott says Kentuckians everywhere should commit themselves to life-long learning as the path to a better future.

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U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell is not attending today’s SOAR summit but did hold what he called a “listening session” on coal last Friday at the University of Pikeville. The Republican says he applauds the efforts of Congressman Hal Rogers and Governor Beshear to diversify eastern Kentucky’s economy.

However, McConnell says no one should forget about the importance of coal…

McConnell says coal still accounts for 90 percent of Kentucky’s electricity.

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Booth Energy President Jim Booth says Kentucky’s electricity costs are the fourth lowest in the nation because of coal and his company still employs a thousand miners. The Martin County businessman testified at Senator McConnell’s hearing in Pikeville last Friday.

Booth says preserving those jobs is very important…

Booth claims federal carbon control regulations have given natural gas an unfair advantage over coal in the energy marketplace.