Public officials welcome to the conversation about a just transition in Appalachia

KFTC members welcomed Monday’s announcement by Governor Steve Beshear, U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and others about a public process to gather and share ideas about ways to build a healthy, diverse economy in eastern Kentucky.

“I’m really excited,” said Letcher County KFTC member Elizabeth Sanders. “These elected leaders now appear to be whole-heartedly joining the conversation that is already alive in this region. That’s a welcome step that we haven’t seen in recent years. I’m glad they are calling for genuine involvement and collaboration with people living in southeastern Kentucky, and anyone with an interest in moving this part of the state forward.”
 


KFTC members have been fostering a conversation about a just transition in the mountains for the past few years. The organization hosted a regional conference in April called Appalachia’s Bright Future that brought together a wide range of stakeholders in the region, as well as representatives of communities outside Appalachia that have faced similar transitions, including Wales in the United Kingdom and Newfoundland in Canada.

Elizabeth Sanders“I hope this summit is another opportunity to continue to learn from the experiences of other communities that have faced similar challenges,” Sanders said. “Here in eastern Kentucky we have the vision and leadership we need to define our own path to prosperity, and it helps to learn from other rural communities that have been through their own process of economic upheaval and renewal.”

KFTC members believe that a just transition is possible, even in the midst of rapid changes in the coal industry, and that such a transition must:

  • Improve the quality of life for people and communities affected by economic disruption, environmental damage, and inequality
  • Foster inclusion, participation and collaboration
  • Generate good, stable jobs and broad access to opportunities and benefits
  • Promote innovation, self-reliance, and broadly held local wealth
  • Protect and restore public health and our environment
  • Respect the past while also strengthening communities and culture
  • Consider the effects of decisions on future generations


KFTC Chairperson Sue Tallichet described a just transition this way at the Appalachia’s Bright Future conference in April:

“A just transition in eastern Kentucky is an intentional effort to improve our quality of life, create jobs, strengthen communities, and protect our health and environment. A just transition means that many people must be involved, and many perspectives must be taken into account as decisions get made. It means taking steps to build skills, wealth and opportunities that stay here in the mountains. It means creating the conditions for our communities to thrive, not just survive. And it means protecting the natural resources on which our health and economy depend.”


“I hope this process is genuinely inclusive and truly takes into account the solutions that people in our communities identify,” added Sanders, who also had a major role in the Appalachia’s Bright Future conference. “My generation right now is already showing leadership and vision. We are the folks who will be at the forefront of this region for decades to come. We need to be included from the very beginning.”


Comments

Just sent the following letter to Gov. Beshear & DLG.  Given Booth Energy Group history and Rep Hal Rodgers history ..and given the fact ALOT of our publicly elected officials are loyal to the coal industry.       re:  Help Kentucky SOAR I appreciate your efforts surrounding the upcoming summit in Pikeville.  Eastern Kentucky counties along with other counties across Kentucky are starving for jobs that will provide a descent standard of living.  Although I will not be able to attend the upcoming summit, I'm hopeful it will be a success and you will come away with some valuable feedback on how to bring job opportunities to this poverty-stricken region.  Solar power in Kentucky has been growing in recent years due to new technological improvements and a variety of regulatory actions and financial incentives, particularly a 30% federal tax credit, available through 2016, for any size project. Kentucky could generate 10% of all of the electricity used in the United States from land cleared from coal mining in the state. Covering just one-fifth with photovoltaics would supply all of the state's electricity. Kentucky desperately needs a Renewable Energy Standards bill and I understand our legislature has made great strides in recent sessions!  Kentucky must be able to attract manufacturing jobs in the renewable sector.  We can't afford to sit idly by and continue to let businesses in the renewable sector go to other neighboring states! There are farmers here in western KY supplementing their farm income with 'mailbox' money coming from solar installations! How about increasing limit on net metering?  I understand Kentucky has a net metering program that allows installations of up to 30 kW of on-site electrical generation to continuously roll over any excess generation to the next month. Participation is limited to 1% of utilities peak demand the prior year. The Kentucky Solar Energy Society is lobbying to increase the limit, noting that 17 states allow at least 2 MW capacity to use net metering. Three states have no limit - Arizona, New Jersey, and Ohio. Rhode Island has a 5 MW limit, and New Mexico has a limit of 80 MW. People won't come to Kentucky to see mountains with their tops blown off!  Privatizing public parks is merely a backdoor for the pipeline industry.  I'm fully aware of Booth Energy Group's history with regard to mine safety, exploitation of Kentucky's workforce, and its lobbying efforts to keep renewable energy off the table in Kentucky.  It is also alarming that state and local public officials in Kentucky are so deeply entrenched with Booth Energy Group and other coal companies like them.  I'm also suspect of the alliance with U.S. Rep. Hal Rodgers which could prove disastrous given his background with the coal industry and given the fact that he's done little during his tenure to help the folks in his district who are some of the sickest and poorest people in the country.  I have no doubt that Rep. Rodgers will consider enriching himself first and foremost at the expense and demise of his constituents.  Turning our public lands over to coal companies or other corporate for-profiteering carpetbaggers would be a HUGE mistake!  Eastern Kentucky along with other counties in Kentucky AND Kentucky as a whole will only soar with jobs that pay descent living wages and health care not more service jobs that will further burden the public with responsibility of subsidizing private sector employees. Kentucky cannot afford to continue the path of allowing vulture capitalists to capitalize their gains and socialize their losses on the backs of hard-working Kentuckians!  As Democratic Governor of our great state, I urge you to stand up to corporate special interests when making policy decisions that would affect the best interests of majority of Kentuckians. Best,  Jeanie EmbryPaducah, KY  42001270-366-5872

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