Commonwealth Journal

Local News

February 4, 2014

McConnell challenges Obama over Duskytail Darter wrangle

Washington, D.C. —

A little minnow in Lake Cumberland has made the big time.
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell on the U.S. Senate floor Tuesday pointed a finger at policies of President Barack Obama’s administration, accusing it of siding with the tiny duskytail darter over the economic well-being of thousands of southeastern Kentuckians.
In case you haven’t heard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last week announced the level of Lake Cumberland won’t return to normal operation this summer because in its headwaters are duskytail darters, a 2 1/2-inch-long minnow on the federal endangered species list.
McConnell, normally a sedate personality, must have been in rare form on the Senate floor while berating the Obama Administration’s protection of the minnow.
“The absurdity of the Obama Administration’s posture on this issue is manifest. First, the Administration is protecting a fish from water,” McConnell suggested.
“Let me repeat that,” he continued. “Radical environmentalist in the Obama Administration don’t want this fish to be exposed to too much water. What next? Protecting birds from too much sky? To the people of southeastern Kentucky the President’s ‘Year of Action’ is apparently beneficial only if you happen to have gills.”
McConnell sounded in a filibuster mood.
“Mr. President, the story of the darter would be humorous if it weren’t so harmful to the economic well-being of thousands of Kentuckians. The misguided policy will have harmful consequences for this region of Kentucky.”
McConnell during his speech outlined economic benefits of Lake Cumberland.
“Lake Cumberland is a signature tourist destination in my state, and one of the economic pillars of McCreary, Clinton, Laurel, Russell, Pulaski and Wayne counties,” he said. The senator recalled that the lake was lowered in 2007 due to problems at Wolf Creek Dam.
“The past seven years of reduced water levels have not only hurt small businesses that rely on tourism, but have also strained local governments, as towns have had to lower their water intakes,” said McConnell. “Marinas have had to spend valuable dollars on boat ramp upgrades; dollars that could have been spent on growing businesses, hiring new workers and enhancing local commerce.” McConnell also said the lake drawdown has deterred tourism with a misconception among potential visitors that the lake is no longer suitable for boating, fishing and water sports.

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