In Aug. 12 Issue
Congressman Ed Whitfield made a brief stop in Jamestown last week, speaking to a small group of supporters and public officials at the Russell County Courthouse on topics ranging from jobs to future uses of Kentucky coal, a topic he has recently introduced legislation on.
"I do think that one of the big priorities that we have is to obviously create jobs," Whitfield said. "Right now there is a lack of certainty in the market."
Whitfield said there is an uncertainty of whether or not the so-called "Bush tax cuts" will be extended, something he hopes does happen.
"People are trying to sell it as a tax cut for wealthy Americans … but if you don't extend them the state tax is going to go up 55 percent so we'll have a lot of farmers and small business people who will find it difficult to pass on their business if state tax goes that high," he said.
He said every income tax rate will go up if the tax cuts aren't extended.
"Everyone who has a child gets a $1,000 tax credit for each child, if they don't extend (the cuts) that will drop to $500," Whitfield said. "That is going to be costly."
He said a lot of the county's unemployment rates in the first district are between 13 and 15 percent. Russell County's rate is hovering at around 10 percent, according to the latest state statistics.
The first district congressman also spoke on Kentucky coal, saying there was no way that solar, wind, and hydropower could provide the electricity usage this country needs.
"We're expecting the electricity demand to double in the next 15 years, so that is another uncertainty," he said.
Earlier this month, Whitfield introduced legislation in Washington which would help advance the use of Carbon Capture and Sequestration technologies critical to ensuring the future use of Kentucky coal, if passed.
"We in Kentucky know how important coal is both as an energy source and as a critical part of our economy," Whitfield said. "Advancing the use of clean coal technologies such as CCS is the best way to make certain coal remains a part of our nation's energy portfolio. The legislation I was proud to introduce will go a long way in ensuring commercial availability of CCS and the future use of our nation's most abundant natural resource."
Whitfield introduced a bill which would clarify that the "pore space" below federal lands belongs to the federal government. In Carbon Capture and Sequestration, carbon is removed from the atmosphere and injected into pore spaces in the ground for storage. The legislation Whitfield introduced would create a federal standard for states to follow in terms of who owns the pore space and therefore who can issue leases for its use.
Whitfield is a longtime supporter of clean coal technologies that enable coal to be used in a manner that is both more efficient and environmentally friendly.
The Congressman helped introduce legislation in both the 110th and 111th Congress which would establish a $1 billion annual fund, derived from fees on the generation of electricity from coal, oil and natural gas.
Whitfield was first elected to Congress in 1994 as the first Republican to represent Kentucky's First Congressional District, where Russell County is located.