Posts Tagged ‘Tom Fitzgerald’

Phone Deregulation Debate

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

People like to complain about the weather—and the phone company.

Except today, it’s not the phone company, it’s the cellular conglomerate that controls what device you own or lease to make and receive calls. It’s also about what service you have a contract with or use because there is no other one offered. In some parts of Kentucky, your choices are limited.

Sometimes, like the weather, you can’t do a lot about it — except complain.

There was a lot of that on “Kentucky Tonight” Monday night. Proponents of Senate Bill 88, backed by AT&T, say the simple message behind the bill is an advanced, broadband communication technology essential for Kentucky’s future. (Note: the Senate passed the bill; vote was Feb. 14)

Opponents argue that the legislation could allow telephone companies to abandon land lines in rural areas where there aren’t many customers.

That was at the heart of the discussion Monday night between AT&T Attorney Patrick Turner and Tom Fitzgerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council.

During the discussion, Turner said it was about phone company competition, which would require AT&T to maintain a robust network of phone service throughout the state; Fitzgerald disagreed and said that the consumers would be left with only three options if the bill passes and is signed into law.

The bill now moves to the state House of Representatives where it could possibly receive more discussion and a possible floor vote.

Watch the entire debate on Kentucky Tonight at on our website,

The Debate Over Coal in Kentucky

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Over 200 people attended the University of Kentucky’s College of Engineering Forum on Coal Thursday at the Hilary J. Boone Center. The organizers promised that the purpose of the event was to create a balanced discussion regarding the past, present, and future impact of coal in Kentucky. I believe they lived up to their promise.

Last night, at Memorial Hall,  I moderated an interesting discussion between coal interests and presenters from the environmental community. Tom Fitzgerald of the Kentucky Resources Council gave a brilliant overview of the environmental impact that mountain-top removal of coal has in Eastern Kentucky. He was joined by author Jeff Goodell, who wrote Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future, who emphasized that carbon capture from coal is and will be a monumental struggle for companies and the government as they attempt to control global warming.

The coal industry was represented by Joe Craft of Alliance Resource Partners, a native of Hazard and a very successful coal-mine owner who now lives in Oklahoma. Craft said that coal has been the backbone of the American economy for generations and will continue to be that in the future. Fred Palmer represented Peabody Energy and stated that coal is a future fuel, there’s plenty of it to mine, it’s a stable resource, and it will continue to be used as a valuable fossil fuel for a long time.

All of the panelists agreed that the biggest challenge facing the coal industry is carbon capture storage. It is a challenge facing United States coal companies and coal operations around the world.

One student was quoted in the Friday edition of The Kentucky Kernel, the UK student newspaper, saying “It [the forum] was a lot more well rounded than I expected it to be”…and it was!

Forum on Coal in Kentucky

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

The College of Engineering at the University of Kentucky will present a Forum on Coal in Kentucky,  Thursday, November 5. According to information on their web site, the purpose of the event is to create a balanced discussion regarding the past, present, and future impacts of coal on Kentucky’s economy and environment.

I think the organizers have attempted to bring together representatives of environmental groups, the coal industry, researchers, and journalists for the discussion. The forum is the kick-off event for a documentary film that is being developed on coal in Kentucky; its past, present, and future implications to the state.

There will be a number of important presenters–one of those will be Brad Luttrell, a 2009 graduate of UK who works in Memphis. His story in the university’s student newspaper, The Kentucky Kernel, won an Associated Press award. It was entitled “The Future of Coal”.

The evening panel will feature an interesting lineup: Fred Palmer of Peabody Energy; Joseph Craft, president of Alliance Coal; Tom Fitzgerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council; and Jeff Goodell, author of Big Coal. I’ll be moderating that discussion tomorrow night at Memorial Hall.

I’ll be eager to update you on the event.

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