KFTC Blog

Modest clean air goals and better health bring loud howls

Posted by: KFTC staff on June 13, 2014

2010_06_13 Cane Run Rd. coal plant and coal ash landfill--bethb (2)

Kentuckians would realize tremendous health benefits from significant cuts in power plant pollution. Proposed EPA air pollution limits would require Kentucky to cut carbon pollution only by 18.3% by the year 2030 – a very modest and achievable goal. Yet many of our politicians and candidates are howling against the EPA proposal and ignoring the billions of dollars in health benefits.

Here's a KFTC statement in response to the EPA announcement.

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General permit for coal falls short, June 18 hearing set

Posted by: KFTC staff on June 3, 2014

A public hearing will take place on June 18 to receive comments on proposed drafts of the state’s General Permit for Coal Mining.

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KFTC's Voter Empowerment work in the primary election and beyond

Posted by: Enchanta Jackson on May 29, 2014

Just as no two regions of Kentucky are identical neither are KFTC chapters’ voter empowerment work. Across Kentucky KFTC members prepared to get out the vote during the primary election with activities including registering voters, tabling events, canvassing door-to-door and phone banking.

Chapters were very creative about how they encouraged voters to exercise their voice in our democracy. The Jefferson County chapter organized an amazing Bike the Vote event that brought out a fun, diverse crowd. The chapter also canvassed the Smoketown neighborhood to talk to residents about housing and development issues while also encouraging them to vote.

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Member reflection: Bereans for Fairness has already made a difference

Posted by: Kate Grigg on May 28, 2014

NOTE: Kate Grigg is an active member of the Madison County KFTC chapter and has recently left her position as Eastern Kentucky Organizer for the Fairness Coalition. She will leave Kentucky this summer to pursue her studies, and she offered up this reflection on her time working to pass a local Fairness ordinance in Berea.

Megan Naseman and Jeanne Hibberd at Berea Fairness forum in May of 2011

As I leave my position with the Fairness Coalition, I am reflecting on the story of Bereans for Fairness. I started this job as Eastern Kentucky Regional Organizer in September of 2012, but Bereans for Fairness and I go back to the spring of 2011, just after I moved to Berea and just as the debate for Fairness began. Do you remember the second public forum at the community school? Hundreds of people showed up, the majority of them wearing blue to show their support for Fairness. Bereans for Fairness was born and we have been at it ever since.

In September of 2011, we worked with the Fairness Coalition and Kentuckians For The Commonwealth to organize an incredible rally and march. Hundreds of people gathered in front of Union Church. People shouted in front of the Berea Municipal building where city council holds its meetings. That same day, the city council voted to re-establish the Berea Human Rights Commission (HRC), reportedly a “first-step” on the way to Fairness for Berea.

Fairness rally day

Since then, Bereans for Fairness has showed incredible stick-to-itiveness. It has been slow-going and, at times, painfully frustrating. Yet, we have continued to meet and organize and do our best to keep the Fairness conversation on the forefront. We have held welcome receptions for the Berea HRC, led anniversary marches, and organized summer picnics. We have attended city council meetings and had individual conversations with council members and candidates, our mayor, HRC members, neighbors and friends. We solicited support from local businesses; at current count, we have an impressive list of 32 Business Supporters for Fairness. We have shared powerful stories and letters about why Fairness matters to us. We have flooded the council and the mayor time and time again with messages of our support for Fairness in Berea. We have also taken our voices to Frankfort, lobbying for a Statewide LGBT Fairness Law.

Bereans for Fairness march to City Council meeting in September 2013

We are on the eve of having a first reading on an anti-discrimination Fairness ordinance in Berea. I am confident that this passionate, dedicated group of folks who call themselves Bereans for Fairness will not let up until we pass Fairness. What we are asking for is simple: basic civil rights that provide protection from discrimination in the areas of housing, public accommodations and employment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. No, these protections don’t already exist. Yes, they are needed. Isn’t it time for Berea to stand up and pass this ordinance?

As was expressed at a recent Bereans for Fairness meeting, the gift of the long struggle to pass this ordinance is the community of dedicated, caring folks who have formed around this work. I am grateful to have been a part of that. The ordinance will come; I know you will see to that. In the meantime, know that y’all have already made a difference.

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Members attend Jackson Rising conference to learn more about worker co-ops

Posted by: Ryan Fenwick on May 23, 2014

Jackson Rising brought together 500 people, including Central KY chapter member Ginger Watkins and myself, in Jackson, MS. The conference gave us the opportunity for discussion and information sharing between national and regional authorities on cooperatives, cooperative owners, and others interested in exploring how cooperatives can be part of building a better economy with a better way of doing business. Presenters included US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, Southern Cooperative Association, Southern Grassroots Economics Project, Cincinnati Union-Coop Initiative, Mondragon, USA, Green Workers Cooperatives, and US Solidarity Economy Network. Participants from across the nation were introduced to the basics of forming agreements for making cooperatives work, state policy obstacles to cooperatives, ideas for seeking initial funding for cooperatives from cooperative banks and foundations as an alternative to national banks that often deny funding for cooperatives, and other details about how day-to-day cooperative business is conducted.

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KFTC members give testimony to national voting rights panel

Posted by: Beth Howard on May 21, 2014

KFTC members traveled to Nashville on May 8th to participate in the National Commission on Voting Rights’ regional hearing that was organized by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Tayna Fogle was called as an expert witness on the panel to discuss disenfranchisement of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals, while Teddi Smith-Robillard, Bonifacio Aleman, and Honey Dozier all attended to give public testimony as directly effected individuals. The panel lasted for four hours and covered a range of issues around voting rights, including election administration, dilution of minority power and redistricting, equal access to the political process, the impact of voter ID, and of course felony disenfranchisement. The regional hearing consisted of testimony from Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.Honey Dozier, Bonifacio Aleman, Teddi Smith Robillard

Members traveled to Nashville and sat for hours through the hearing to share their personal stories. “I feel it is necessary to reveal the discrepancies in the process to restore felons' civil rights to the rest of the nation,” Honey Dozer of KFTC and Jobs with Justice said after sharing her personal experience. Bonifacio Aleman, also with KFTC and Jobs with Justice, made it clear to the panel why he attended the hearing by saying, “Why do I care about voting? Because that is where our power lies.” And, Teddi Smith-Robillard shared her personal story and also challenged everyone to take action: “We need to take this issue to the streets because people aren’t listening.”

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May Jefferson County chapter meeting report

Posted by: Ryan Fenwick on May 18, 2014

Here’s some highlights from the May Jefferson County chapter meeting: 

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KFTC members want stronger 402 permit

Posted by: KFTC Staff on May 16, 2014

On July 31 of this year, the current General 402 Permit for Coal Mining expires.

Under the Kentucky Pollution Discharge Elimination System (KPDES), all water that leaves a mine site has to go through a pipe, which needs to be permitted so that the water can be monitored to know if it exceeds pollution standards.

Look for more information from KFTC once the first draft of the next General KPDES Permit for Coal Mining has been released. There will be an opportunity for the public to submit comments, and there likely will be a public hearing on the draft permit. Approval from the federal EPA also is required.

Coal companies have the option of either applying for an individual KPDES permit or applying to have their water discharge covered by the KPDES general permit for coal mining.

The general KPDES permit is a five-year permit developed by the Kentucky Division of Water (DoW) in order to create a streamlined process for various types of activities that discharge pollution into the streams and lakes of Kentucky. DoW must update and renew that permit every five years.

There can be a general KPDES permit for municipal sewage treatment plants, or for high schools, and there is a general permit for active coal mines and for inactive coal mines.

The general permit requires less scrutiny for potential damage to waterways and uses a “one size fits all” approach.

Aside from the difference in fees ($1,300 for a general permit and $3,300 for an individual permit), the major difference between the two is that each individual 402 KPDES permit is subject to review by the federal EPA.

Over the last few years, EPA has found reason to request additional testing and pollution discharge restrictions on about 36 individual permits, while the Kentucky Division of Water has allowed thousands of new mines and amended mine permits to be covered by the general coal mine permit.

In meetings with the Kentucky Division of Water, KFTC members have expressed their belief that Kentucky should stop using the general KPDES permit and instead require all coal companies to apply for individual permits.

They pointed out that each coal mine and each stream is different and the pollution limits should be tailored for the specific pollution coming off of each mine site.

In addition, if previous mining has already polluted a stream, then new mines should not be allowed to discharge additional pollution into the stream.

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Dear Appalachia

Photo of author Anne Shelby
Posted by: Anne Shelby on May 15, 2014

With the author's permission, we are pleased to share with you this powerful poem by Clay County author Anne Shelby. She expresses beautifully the deep and conflicting emotions many Kentuckians feel about our home communities. The poem was first written for a National Public Radio program, State of The Reunion. A version of it was published in the journal Appalachian Heritage. Thank you, Anne!

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2014 Primary Election: Central Kentucky Gets Out the Vote!

Posted by: Beth Howard on May 14, 2014

The primary election is on Tuesday, May 20th and the Central Kentucky Chapter of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth is getting out the vote. And, you can get involved!Hilary Crookston registering voters

KFTC has done an amazing job with candidate surveys for the 2014 Primary and the Central Kentucky chapter worked hard to develop questions for local candidates based upon local issues we all care about, such as affordable housing, homelessness, diversity, and the environment, among others. We sent surveys out to the candidates so that we can communicate their answers out far and wide and they're now online at KentuckyElection.org There are also links to candidate sites, voting location information, and more.  So please share this link with people you know.

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