Congressman Rogers hears eastern Kentuckians' call for just transition, introduces RECLAIM Act

Posted by: KFTC Staff on February 3, 2016

A strong grassroots movement toward just transition in eastern Kentucky and Central Appalachia, including major federal investment in the region, has resulted in new legislation.

Carl Shoupe sends Congressman Hal Rogers the resolutions that were passed by local governments asking him to support the POWER+ Plan. Carl is a retired coal miner, member of KFTC, and member of the Benham Power Board, which passed a resolution in August 2015.Today U.S. Representative Hal Rogers introduced the RECLAIM Act (Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More). The bipartisan bill aims to accelerate the use of $1 billion in funding in the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Fund to help revitalize coal communities hardest hit by the downturn of the coal industry.

“This is great news. I am thrilled that Kentucky is taking the lead with Congressman Hal Rogers’ introduction of the bill,” said KFTC Chairperson Dana Beasley Brown. “A proposal to restore the land and water of abandoned mine sites in eastern Kentucky in ways that will put people back to work and create economic development opportunities is what folks in the region and beyond have been working hard toward for years.”

The legislation distributes $200 million annually to states and Indian tribes to carry out reclamation projects that will create favorable conditions for economic development in the surrounding area.

The AML Fund was created in the 1977 Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) to address environmental damages from abandoned coal mines. A change in the statutory language of SMCRA is required to allow funds to be used for those expanded purposes.

“This legislation, if passed, will bring a much-needed kick-start to our struggling economy and put laid off miners and others back to work while restoring the land and water of abandoned mines in ways that create economic and community development,” said KFTC member Carl Shoupe who has worked to build local support for this and other investments in Appalachia’s bright future.

The RECLAIM Act mirrors a proposal from the White House in February 2015 that was part of a broader POWER+ Plan which included job training, strengthening the health and pension plans of 100,000 retired coal miners and their families, and other direct investments in communities affected by the nation’s transition from coal.

That proposal did not gain much traction until last fall when communities in eastern Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee began passing resolutions in support of the POWER+ proposal. The Kentucky resolutions called on Rep. Rogers to sponsor the legislation necessary to allow the extra $1 billion in AML funds to be used for economic and community development projects.

"This just shows that all of our little actions together can add up to something big"

“We have been working together locally as a community for quite some time, and are excited to see the ball start to roll in our favor, to see representatives from our state on our side,” said Kimberly Shepherd of Harlan County. “I was happy back in August when our county government here in Harlan County passed a resolution in support of POWER+. I’m just as happy now that others are starting to see the potential that we see here for a just transition. It’s been coming a long time. This gives me a lot of hope and optimism for the future.”

Resolutions in support of POWER+ were passed by fiscal courts in Letcher, Floyd, Knott, Harlan, Bell, Pike and Perry counties; city councils in Vicco, Hindman, Evarts, Benham and Whitesburg; the Benham Power Board and the Appalachian Renaissance Initiative Student Senate; plus 14 locals governments in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee.

“This just shows that all of our little actions together can add up to something big,” said Carl Shoupe, a retired third-generation coal miner.

Those who wish to show support for the RECLAIM Act can sign an online petition and get more information at www.powerplusplan.org.

A summary of the bill can be found here.

The complete bill can be downloaded here.

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Retired Kentucky miner delivers POWER+ resolutions to Congressman Hal Rogers

Posted by: Carl Shoupe on February 2, 2016

Carl Shoupe, a retired UMWA coal miner in Harlan County, Kentucky, mailed a letter to Congressman Hal Rogers today encouraging him to push the POWER+ Plan through Congress in 2016. The letter was accompanied by copies of the 14 resolutions that local governments and organizations have passed in Rogers' 5th District supporting the POWER+ Plan.

Carl serves on the Benham Power Board, one of the 14 Kentucky localities that have passed POWER+ support resolutions. Read Carl's letter here:

Dear Congressman Rogers,

Chase Gladson and Carl Shoupe

My name is Carl Shoupe and I am a retired, third-generation coal miner and a member of the Benham Power Board, which passed a resolution in support of the POWER+ plan last year. The Benham Power Board and the Benham City Council, along with 12 other local governments and organizations in the 5th District in Kentucky, and 14 more throughout the Central Appalachian region passed these resolutions to demonstrate our commitment to building a bright future here in our beautiful mountains as the coal industry continues to decline. We believe the investments from the federal government that the POWER+ Plan calls for would be an important component of helping our struggling region transition to a new, strong economy good for all eastern Kentuckians.

I am writing to share with you the resolutions that have passed in the 5th District, the list of resolutions from other areas, and to ask you to pass POWER+ through Congress this year.

Jefferson County members attend Environmental Justice Summits

Posted by: Aaron Pardieu on February 2, 2016

January is a time to not only look forward to the new year but to also reflect on the successes and failures of the previous twelve months.

10 Years of I Love Mountains Days

Posted by: KFTC Staff on February 1, 2016

I Love Mountains Day slideshow

KFTC and friends have had 10 years of great success with I Love Mountains Day, bringing thousands to the capital in February to let elected leaders know of our love for Kentucky’s people and mountains, our determination to stop their destruction, and our vision for Appalachia’s Bright Future. Last year KFTC leadership decided that the 2015 I Love Mountains Day would be our last.

Just as we tried over the decade to evolve the theme of I Love Mountains Day from one of just protest against mountaintop removal, valley fills and environmental destruction to one that also included value-based solutions like clean energy and economic justice for all, KFTC’s legislative strategy also has evolved.

Economic benefits of clean energy described at hearing

Posted by: KFTC staff on January 31, 2016

A Renewable and Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) in Kentucky would create jobs, save money, improve public health and invigorate the economy members of the House Economic Development Committee

Members push back on Governor's Budget

Posted by: Kentuckians For The Commonwealth on January 27, 2016

Members gathered all over the state, from Madison County to Whitesburg to Covington to Lexington, last night to watch, process, and come up with action plans to push for adequate funding for healt

NKY member hosts Tax Justice powerbuilding party

Posted by: Kentuckians For The Commonwealth on January 13, 2016

NKY member Serena Owen hosted a Tax Justice Powerbuilder party in Covington a few weeks ago, and we're just now getting the chance to show off some of the photos!

KFTC members attend Equity Summit 2015

Posted by: Tanya Torp & Jessica Bellamy on January 13, 2016

Last October several KFTC members and staff traveled to Los Angeles, California for PolicyLink's Equity Summit 2015: All in for Inclusion, Justice, &am

‘Walk Your Block’ is Jefferson County's next Smoketown initiative

Posted by: Ryan Fenwick on January 13, 2016

A year after the Vision Smoketown survey report was released, largely the same Jefferson County Economic Justi

We Are Kentuckians rally lifts up a vision for Kentucky

Posted by: KFTC Staff on January 5, 2016

KFTC Chairperson Dana Beasley Brown opened the first We Are Kentuckians rally in Frankfort by sharing a vision of healthy communities, good jobs, the best health care, fairness, racial justice and a healthy environment across Kentucky.

“Our collective voice is so important in this political landscape – the voice of real people. We’re churning our dreams – you and me – with people all over our commonwealth. And we have the solutions that can make them a reality,” Beasley Brown told the crowd of 200 gathered in the capitol rotunda on January 5, the first day of the 2016 General Assembly.

Bevin’s Voting Rights action unnecessary, reverses positive steps forward

Posted by: KFTC staff on December 23, 2015

Gov. Matt Bevin’s action Tuesday to take away automatic voting rights restoration to an estimated 150,000 Kentuckians was unnecessary and sets back progress toward a healthy democracy, KFTC leaders say.

“We’ve been working with Democratic and Republican House leaders for a permanent legislative solution to this issue for a decade,” said Dana Beasley Brown, chairperson of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth. “We’re glad that Gov. Bevin supports this approach. But until Republican leaders in the Senate stop blocking the needed legislation we need interim solutions like the executive action taken by Gov. Steve Beshear in November.”


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