KENTUCKY (2/12/14) – In rural Kentucky, you will find a hidden gem where countless people have gone to create memories that last a lifetime.
This special place is known as Lake Cumberland.
Lake Cumberland has fallen on some tough times lately.
In 2007, the lake’s water levels had to be lowered for the repair of Wolf Creek Dam and the construction of a new cutoff wall. This was done after assurances were made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) that lake levels, businesses and marinas would not be affected.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife is now refusing to raise the lake levels back to normal pool.
They point to the discovery of a 2.5 inch duskytail minnow on the federal endangered species list and say that raising the water level could adversely affect the minnow.
With all due respect to the tiny minnow, I am more worried about endangered businesses, endangered savings and endangered livelihoods of the people of this region, than a 2.5 inch minnow.
That is why I am teaming up with Senators McConnell and Paul, and Congressman Hal Rogers to pressure the Fish and Wildlife to raise the levels as they promised to do.
A larger issue that bothers me is what I consider a pattern of conduct by the Obama Administration, which includes agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, where they reward their friends and punish their opponents.
It is hard to argue that President Obama is a fan of Kentucky and our way of life when you consider how his anti-coal policies are making the Commonwealth hemorrhage jobs.
Why is it is that this Administration is making a big deal over a tiny minnow at the expense of Lake Cumberland’s economy but is turning a blind eye to the wind industry that is killing hundreds of thousands of birds?
According to a study in a March 2013, Wildlife Society Bulletin, more than 573,000 birds are killed by the country’s wind farms each year including 83,000 hunting birds such as hawks, falcons and eagles.
Over the past five years, nearly all of the birds being killed are protected under federal environmental laws which prosecutors have used to generate tens of millions of dollars in fines and settlements from businesses, including oil and gas companies and electricity generators.
Meanwhile, one oil company, for example, was fined $100 million for killing and harming migratory birds in 2010. And another coal company in Wyoming paid more than $10.5 million in 2009 for electrocuting a number of eagles along power lines and its substations.
Yet, this Administration has never taken the same hard line tactics with a wind energy company-even those that flout the law repeatedly.
Instead, the Administration is shielding their friends in the wind industry from liability and helping keep the scope of the deaths secret.
There is clearly a double standard in this Administration.
If you are a business in Lake Cumberland, you have to continue enduring extreme economic hardship due to an endangered minnow. But, if you are a wind energy company, even though the bird you kill may be protected under the Endangered Species Act, you’re going to be protected by this Administration.
Earlier this month, Senator McConnell, Senator Paul, Congressman Rogers, and I sent a letter to the Corps and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calling on them to do whatever is necessary to get the Lake Cumberland water levels back to normal prior to this year’s peak tourism season.
We also met personally with the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to discuss the urgency in returning the pool levels.Going forward, the people in the Lake Cumberland area have my word that I will explore all avenues and monitor this issue closely.
This Administration is applying a double standard and it must stop.
Information provided by Congressman Ed Whitfield
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