Editorial voices from across the country

May 20, 2017

Editorial voices from around the United States:

The Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio

In a mostly party-line vote, the U.S. Senate recently rejected a Trump initiative to scrub a responsible rule requiring cuts in dangerous methane-gas emissions at gas and oil drilling sites on public lands. The rule was implemented in 2016 by Trump’s archenemy, former President Barack Obama.

That rejection represents the one and only loss for the president among 13 Congressional Review Act resolutions that he has steamrolled through Congress and into law so far this year. Many of them have taken straight aim at environmental safeguards, including those tied to coal pollution, land management and financial disclosures for drillers.

The methane-waste prevention rule aims to limit venting, flaring and leaking of methane, the main component in natural gas, from oil and gas operations on public and tribal lands. Had the rule been repealed, methane that traps 86 times more heat than carbon dioxide, would flow more freely – as would its documented health hazards.

Trump’s Interior Department is likely to try to repeal the rule itself through internal administrative procedures. Efforts to undo similar methane regulations that cover drilling on private lands also is being targeted by the new administration. EPA Director Scott Pruitt has delayed implementation of those regulations while his agency assesses their impact on businesses.

Those and other threats mean Congress and the American people must remain vigilant.

The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette-Mail

West Virginia-born Mylan Pharmaceuticals just revealed that its chairman, Robert Coury, pocketed $164 million in 2016 – despite some public outrages directed at the firm. What a disgusting illustration of America’s worsening gulf between the 1 percent elite and everyone else.

In contrast, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch, daughter of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., got only $13.8 million last year, down from $18.9 million in 2015.

Actually, Coury, 56, earned slightly less than $100 million, but he also got $66.3 million in retirement benefits. MarketWatch explained:

“The added sum brings Coury’s total 2016 payday to just shy of $164 million. Although no longer an employee, Coury will continue to receive $1.8 million a year as a ‘cash retainer’ as part of an agreement struck last year. He also received 1 million restricted stock units, worth about $37 million at current share prices, most of which vest in mid-2019.”

Last year, public outrage flared because Mylan jacked up prices astronomically for EpiPens, needed to save lives of people suffering deadly allergy reactions. A federal investigation forced Mylan to pay $465 million in penalties last October.

Regardless of those problems, or perhaps because of them, Mylan’s top executives are thriving. It’s a sorry example of how America’s free-enterprise system can produce lopsided oceans of greed.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Alcohol or physical abuses in college fraternity initiation rituals are finally getting the treatment they deserve from prosecutors around the country – as criminal cases. Prosecutors on May 5 filed criminal charges against 18 Penn State students in the death of a 19-year-old sophomore who drank excessively and suffered severe internal injuries during a fraternity hazing.

Members of the fraternity watched him collapse and left him for hours on the floor, even walking over his body instead of calling for help. The victim died of traumatic brain injury and a ruptured spleen.

Closer to home, 22 fraternity members at Northern Illinois University were convicted of misdemeanors in a hazing-related death in 2015.

The criminal justice system’s harder line is long overdue. Colleges and universities have traditionally used campus security and private disciplinary hearings to keep such problems in-house and out of the headlines. That left students unaccountable for their crimes, put other students at risk and apparently provided minimal deterrent value in curbing outrageous behavior.

Fraternity alumni who want to remain proud of their associations should work alongside administrators, prosecutors, lawyers and families to clean up the organizations. Repeatedly tragic results only reinforce fraternities’ image as big contributors to the college boozing culture.

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