KFTC Blog

Members speak out to protect climate, clean energy jobs

Posted by: KFTC staff on December 11, 2017

In the final week of November, KFTC members Russell Oliver, Stanley Sturgill, Henry Jackson, Teri Blanton, Roger Ohlman, Mary Dan Easley and Mary Love converged in Charleston, West Virginia – alongside hundreds of other concerned people – to testify to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) against the agency’s proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan.

“Now that we have cleaner, safer and cheaper ways to generate energy, the only question should be: how can we create more of those new jobs right here and right now in Appalachia? I know this because not only have I lived it, I’m still trying my best to keep living it,” said Stanley Sturgill of Harlan County, a retired coal miner and KFTC member.

Sturgill and others urged the EPA not to eliminate the Clean Power Plan rule. Issued in 2014, the plan is an Obama administration regulation that calls on states to develop plans for modestly reducing their carbon pollution. Most would do that through energy efficiency programs, development of solar and wind power, and reducing the amount of coal burned. States have lots of flexibility on how they choose to meet the standard.

Kentucky’s utilities would be required to reduce their carbon dioxide pollution by 31 percent by 2030 from the baseline of 2012 – something that will mostly be achieved anyway through coal plant retirements that have already happened or have been recently announced.

But, to meet or exceed the standard, the state also needs to adopt some new policies and strategies to reduce energy consumption and get more from renewable energy.

Instead, the EPA is proposing to do away with the rule, which has never actually been implemented due to court challenges. What’s more, the EPA’s proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan has not followed the in-depth public engagement process that went into creating the plan.

KFTC member Mary Love pointed this out in her testimony to the EPA.

“This hearing today is not the conversation Americans want or deserve. We should be talking about how to improve the Clean Power Plan, not scrap it. We should be talking about how to better protect the health of low-income people and people of color who are on the front lines in places where fossil fuels are extracted, processed, transported and burned.”

Because the EPA’s hearing process was far from accessible or inclusive, KFTC members also attended the Hearing for Healthy Communities that the Sierra Club put on across the street from the capitol building. At this people’s hearing, Mary Dan Easley read a poem titled “Declaration of Interdependence” by David Suzuki.

Also at the Hearing for Healthy Communities, Teri Blanton, a KFTC member who grew up in Harlan County, read the testimony that she would give to the EPA the next day.

“Our people have been producing energy for this nation for over 100 years. We’re proud of our heritage. But there is no reason we should stay stuck in time as the world changes.

“Why shouldn’t eastern Kentucky be in the forefront of a clean energy revolution?” she asked. “Why shouldn’t we seize this moment to create jobs in wind, solar and hydropower? Appalachian people are resourceful, skilled and hardworking. We can put our communities back to work – today – by making our homes energy efficient and installing small-scale renewable energy systems.

“That’s true energy independence. This EPA climate plan can and should do much more to help us make this transition to a cleaner energy economy.” 

Many of the KFTC members in Charleston also referenced the Empower Kentucky Plan (www.empowerkentucky.org) – a people’s energy plan showing that Kentucky can make a just transition to a clean energy economy. Last year, when it became clear that Kentucky officials had no intention of complying with the rule, KFTC took on the task of creating an energy plan for Kentucky, based on input from thousands of Kentuckians.

In the words of Love, “The Empower Kentucky Plan demonstrates that a just transition to a clean energy economy is possible. It shows that the very steps we need to address climate change are also better for jobs and ratepayers – and much better for health – than sticking our heads in the sand and doing nothing. And if we can do that in Kentucky, surely we can do it everywhere.”

Member Henry Jackson testified alongside Love. “What America really needs is a national climate policy coordinating clean energy development and resilience efforts of all eight climate zones of the U.S.,” he argued in his closing statement. “Anything less is irresponsible. The stakes couldn’t be higher.”

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Get Out Film Screening

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on December 1, 2017

The Scott County chapter co-hosted a showing of the film Get Out with allies in Georgetown as a continuation of a racial justice film

Arty Pie Party Success!

Great Turnout!
Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on December 1, 2017

For the past several years members in Scott County have hosted an art and dessert auction known as the Arty Pie Party! This years event was another rousing success, with over 50 pieces of art or baked goods being up for auction.

The patrons of the Scott County Arty Pie Party have been incredibly generous, with local artists donating original pieces, members donating works they have collected over the years, delicious baked goods, and originals by well known Kentucky artists. Every year this event is the chapter’s fundraiser, and this one did not disappoint!

Northern Kentucky chapter unpacks politics

Michelle Slaughter, Jason Reser, Arnold Simpson, Pam Mullins, Ken Rechtin, and Sister Janet
Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on November 29, 2017

Northern Kentucky members have expressed an interest in trying to help understand how local government works since the resistance training in January. Out of that training they hosted an Unpack Politics forum to help people better understand how different levels of government work. Be it city, county, school board, or state government, many people are unsure as to what government is responsible for what.

NKY Supporting Our Neighbors Immigrant Rights Workshop

Heyra and Jose lead discussion on next steps attendees can take to protect and promote immigrant rights.
Posted by: Amy Copelin on November 22, 2017

Heyra Avila, an animated young woman from Florence, addressed a group of us fellow northern Kentuckians on a Wednesday night at the end of long day. Her energy was infectious. Her story made a deep impression. She opened up about a precarious, hard-to-imagine trek that she and her family made over a decade ago between Mexico and the U.S.

Her parents, wanting to give their children a more solid future, had chosen to leave their small, metal sheet roofed home not too far from the U.S. border and try their luck over here. Heyra described herself as “lucky.” The dangerous journey they made across the dessert when she was four was safer than it was for most pursuing the same route. Her family had the good fortune of finding a car, providing them with overnight shelter and preventing them from complete exposure to the desert elements or predators—likely both animal and human.

9 reasons why Kentucky needs to fund public pensions

Posted by: 9 KFTC members on November 21, 2017

We’ve built serious momentum in Kentucky around stopping Governor Bevin’s dangerous public pension bill while advancing a commonsense plan to find revenue to fund the pension and other pu

Let's build grassroots power together during our fall campaign

Posted by: Meta Mendel-Reyes on November 13, 2017

Soky Member reflects on the Fund Our Pension rally in Frankfort

Posted by: Joyce Adkins on November 8, 2017

When I became a member of KFTC a few short months ago, I wanted to find ways to make a difference in our community and in our Commonwealth. I had such an opportunity when I was able to attend the Fund Our Pension Rally in Frankfort on November 1. I have been shocked and horrified by our Governor’s depiction of state workers, and especially of public school teachers, as greedy, lazy, and yes, unsophisticated. As one speaker from Vocational Rehabilitation pointed out, he saved as many sick days as he could so if he or his wife or one of his kids had an accident or a serious illness, he would have time to take off. If a worker comes to work with the sniffles or on crutches or with a cast on their arm (I have done all three) and still does their job, and then retires with a couple of months of sick time built up, they should be paid for it.  They could have stayed home and left work undone, but they didn’t.  That is their time accrued and promised to them. The Governor has tried, with some success, to drive a wedge between the private and public sectors.  What people need to know is that when I retired three months ago, the college-educated person who was hired to take my place started at $12.15 an hour.  They could have started at Target with a high school diploma for $11.00 an hour, so, believe me, we don’t work for the state out of greed. I heard one speaker talk about how state workers clear our streets, teach our kids, inspect our swimming pools, help the disabled find jobs, keep us safe, put out our fires, and on and on. No, these are not lazy people, these are people who work for little compensation to care for their fellow citizens. And unsophisticated was just another word for stupid, so I will not even stoop to answer that one. It was clear from the signs and the speeches that no one was happy with that insult.

KFTC benefit show in Harlan County

Posted by: KFTC Staff on November 8, 2017

Dozens turned out to a KFTC benefit show in Harlan County hosted by local music scene organizing group From The Ruins on November 3rd.

"I believe the show we had on Friday was exactly what we set out do. It was local bands that have formed in the past year, all from Harlan, and the scene of people that came out to enjoy it was better than expected. We hope to see continued growth and unity within the music scene as it comes together more," said Adam Peace, a member of From The Ruins and new KFTC member.

The show featured Brooklyn Collins, Mandela, and Swamp Rat.

Madison County chapter's 2017 Halloween Spectacular!

Posted by: Matthew Frederick on October 31, 2017

As a fall season balance to its successful spring pie auction, the Madison County chapter of KFTC held its first Halloween Spectacular. Around 80 people gathered in the basement of Union Church in Berea to celebrate the season, the Halloween holiday, and the work of the membership as well as to promote the good cheer that comes from supporting the ongoing mission of KFTC.

The cool fall evening party began as guests started entering to the enticing smells coming from the chili table. One of the main features of the evening, the chili cook-off put around a dozen slow-cookers full of homemade chilis in competition. After devouring the superb offerings, attendees were invited to vote for the winning chili by placing a few dollars in a chili’s glass donation jar, with all of the resulting proceeds benefiting KFTC and its mission.

KFTC members travel to D.C. to lobby for the RECLAIM Act

Posted by: Nikita Perumal and Jacob Mack-Boll on October 24, 2017

 

Hattie, Larry, Sarah, and Judge Executive Jim Ward meet with Megan Bell and Jake Johnson of Congressman Hal Rogers' Staff

 

This October, KFTC members Sarah Bowling, Larry Miller and Hattie Miller spent time in Washington, D.C. lobbying their congresspeople to pass the 2017 RECLAIM Act.

Larry is a retired coal miner from western Kentucky. “I worked underground for 23 years and very proud of that work,” he said.

“I believe, however, that coal will never again be Kentucky's primary economic engine. I am concerned that investments in mining operations here will eventually end. I take no pleasure in saying that, because I made a good living in coal for a long time, but it just looks like a reality to me.

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