Just Transition gets a boost with approval of RECLAIM Act by congressional committee

Posted by: KFTC staff on June 27, 2017

There was a significant step forward today when a Congressional committee added a key amendment back into the RECLAIM Act and then approved the bill, sending it to the House floor.

KFTC and allies have pushed for the amendment since the bill was introduced earlier this year without necessary language tying the use of funds to economic development projects, with requirements for community engagement.

Passage of the RECLAIM Act became less certain last week when the National Mining Association sent a letter to lawmakers expressing its opposition to the bill, though it seems to have had no affect on today’s vote. The bottom line is that the coal industry wants to do away with the federal program, which is paid for by a per-ton tax on mined coal.

With that important addition, the House Natural Resources Committee passed the RECLAIM Act (H.R. 1731) Tuesday morning.

“This is a victory for Appalachia and a big day for Kentucky and those suffering from the decline of coal,” said Sarah Bowling, a KFTC member who has traveled on several occasions to Washington DC in support of the legislation. “It priorities the economic development that we really need in eastern Kentucky.”

The RECLAIM (Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More) Act calls for the accelerated release of $1 billion over five years from the federal Abandoned Mine Lands Fund. AML money is used to pay for the remediation of abandoned coal mining sites, but is limited now to environmental benefits.

Passing the RECLAIM Act is a priority of KFTC’s Just Transition work. Starting two years ago, eastern Kentucky members and allies built grassroots support for the legislation that eventually led to Rep. Rogers introduction of the bill in February 2016.

The bill did not get a vote last year. Earlier this year, Rogers re-introduced the bill – though it did not have the economic development and community engagement provisions that make the legislation part of a transition strategy. Sen. Mitch McConnell introduced an even weaker version in the Senate.

The committee amendment, offered by Rep. Don Beyers of Virginia, restored the key language.

“It’s really empowering because it was a community-led movement, the culmination of months and months of work,” Bowling added. “We were really pushing for that amendment. The whole purpose of this bill is economic development.”

Rep. Rogers acknowledged the work of RECLAIM supporters in an op-ed this week in the Lexington Herald-Leader. “The RECLAIM Act has been revised, reshaped and strengthened by those who seek to help coal country the most."

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SOKY members canvass for Tax Justice

Member Deane Oliva ready to talk taxes in a neighborhood doorway
Posted by: the Southern Kentucky Chapter on June 16, 2017

Members from the Southern Kentucky chapter engaged the Bowling Green community in conversations about tax justice last Saturday as part of a deep canvass session.

The day began with a training to equip members with deep canvassing skills and review the key conversation points before hitting the streets.

Between the three groups of participants we had 18 high-quality conversations with folks about what an equitable tax system looks like. Member Deane Oliva reflected, “Even though the folks we spoke with had little knowledge of the tax structure, the script gave us a comfortable entrée to discussion and the folks were all visibly engaged with the powerful graphics. In a short time, we raised awareness and made good contacts.“

The day was productive and has members loooking forward to next steps. As member Dr. Alex Poole said, "It wasn't always easy, but if not us, then who? Getting together with like-minded people gives me hope. We can all do our part."

KFTC members speak out at hearing on mountaintop removal

Posted by: Anne Otieno, KFTC Intern on June 14, 2017

On June 10, several members of KFTC went to Virginia for a congressional committee hearing on mountaintop removal in Virginia. This was a public forum with Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona), the ranking Democratic member of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources. Rep. Grijalva was interested in hearing about the current and legacy impacts of mountaintop removal, including health impacts, and recent decisions by the Trump administration and Congress to take away stream protections and weaken environmental safeguards.

Northern Kentucky Celebrates 1st Ever Pride Parade!

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on June 13, 2017

Over 1000 people marched in the first ever LGBTQ+ Pride Parade in northern Kentucky!

Cincinnati People's Climate Rally!

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on June 13, 2017

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth was a co-sponsor of the People's Climate Rally of Cincinnati!

Kentucky Trivia Success!

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on June 13, 2017

The Northern Kentucky chapter held Kentucky Trivia, which the chapter called Make Kentucky Great, to celebrate Kentucky's 225th birthday!

New local jobs! Better health! Just Transition! Here's how.

Posted by: KFTC staff on April 19, 2017

There is a clear path forward for creating thousands of new Kentucky jobs in the energy industry while cutting pollution, lowering electric bills and investing billions of dollars in workers and c

KFTC launches Organizing Academy, Apprentice programs

Posted by: KFTC Staff on April 17, 2017

Amid a fast-changing political and organizing landscape across Kentucky and the nation, KFTC is launching the Organizing Academy and Organizer Apprentice programs.

The Organizing Academy, starting in June 2017, will be a multi-track leadership and organizing training program and the foundation of KFTC's expanding leadership development strategy.  

Build grassroots power: support Organizing Academy, Apprentices

Posted by: Elizabeth Sanders, KFTC Chairperson on April 13, 2017

Our values are being challenged every day – here at home in Kentucky and across the country.

But KFTC members are standing for the Kentucky we know is possible. In the halls of Frankfort and in our communities, we’re resisting with a vision for affordable healthcare, clean energy solutions, fairness and equality, and a healthy democracy.

Benham solar represents a much deeper transition plan

Posted by: Lisa Abbott on April 7, 2017

The mountain community of Benham, Kentucky received a healthy dose of national attention recently when the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum announced it has installed solar panels to save thousands of


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