Chapter: Harlan County

In Harlan County and eastern Kentucky, we have a rich culture, natural beauty, valuable resources such as mountains, forests and water, and a history worth preserving. We are a chapter of KFTC because we believe that these assets and characteristics define who we are, and in preserving and protecting them we are defending a way of life and leaving what is most special about this place for future generations.

Harlan County residents helped create KFTC, and we are one of its earliest chapters. Our local chapter was built on the dedication and struggles of many who came before us, and since 1981 we’ve continued their efforts. Through the years, we have been involved in successful campaigns to save the upper elevations of Black Mountain (Kentucky’s highest peak) from strip mining and logging, help communities win water lines and a new bridge, and so much more.

Today we are working to build new power in the mountains to protect the water and a way of life threatened by destructive mining methods, while  supporting KFTC’s broader efforts to make coal mines safer for miners, fully fund schools and keep college affordable, bring clean energy jobs to this area and expand voting rights.

Recent Activities

Big win: Judge rejects deals between Kentucky officials and coal company

The Franklin Circuit Court on Monday issued two long-awaited orders rejecting settlement deals between the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and Frasure Creek Mining arising from the coal company’s thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act from 2008 through 2011.

In extraordinarily vigorous language, Judge Phillip Shepherd said that due to the coal company’s actions, “The inherent danger of the violations at issue here to the environment is impossible to determine based on Frasure Creek's wholesale abdication of its monitoring and reporting responsibilities, and the cabinet's inability to fully investigate the environmental harm that is likely to have occurred.”

“Since October 2010, we have been in the courts to see that the law be enforced in the state of Kentucky,” said Ted Withrow, a member of KFTC's Litigation Team. “These rulings by Judge Shepherd serve to enforce that right of the people."

In 2010, Appalachian Voices, Kentucky Waterkeeper Alliance, Kentucky Riverkeeper, KFTC and several individuals made public more than 20,000 violations of the Clean Water Act from 2008 to 2010 by Frasure Creek and a second coal company, International Coal Group (which later settled out of court). Under the law, these violations could be subject to hundreds of millions of dollars in fines. On the 57th day, the cabinet and Frasure Creek entered a proposed consent agreement that included only 1,520 violations and combined fines of just $310,000.

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'After Coal' forums connect mining communities across globe and bring out local candidates

On October 7, KFTC’s Letcher County Chapter paired with Appalshop in Whitesburg and the After Coal project of Appalachian State University, to host a public community forum on economic transition, and a local candidate meet and greet reception.

The evening reception began with informal conversation among the 80 guests and several candidates for local office, including the mayor of Whitesburg and a few city council candidates. Mair Francis, founder of the DOVE Workshop, and Hywel Francis, a Labour Member of Parliament for Aberavon, Wales, traveled all the way to Whitesburg in order to discuss policies on sustainable community development in Wales and Appalachia. This was Mair and Hywell's first visit back to east Kentucky since sharing their experiences as the opening session of Appalachia's Bright Future conference in Harlan last year.

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KentuckyElection.org has been updated for the November 4 election!

KFTC's voter guide website has been updated with new information about candidate stances, voting locations, key links and other information to help you cast an informed vote in the election on Tuesday, November 4. We've surveyed candidates running for the U.S. Senate and House, state legislative races, and local races in Louisville, Lexington, Danville, Berea, Richmond, Georgetown, Newport, Florence, Covington, Bowling Green and more!

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Stanley Sturgill's press statement at the People's Climate March

KFTC member Stanley Sturgill was one of the speakers representing frontline communities who spoke today at a press conference kicking off the People's Climate March in New York City. Here is his statement:

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Kentuckians taking a Just Transition message to People’s Climate March

Eastern Kentuckians participating in this weekend’s People's Climate March in New York City are carrying a clear message: We are at the forefront of the transition away from coal and we need to be put first as we go about building a new economy.

For Kimberly Shepherd, it’s about her daughter and her future. She is working toward a just economic transition so she can keep her family in the mountains.

“The solution is complicated. I don't think that there's one thing that can fix it, it'll take a lot of different things. But the resource we really have in Harlan County is our people and community,” said the Harlan County student and mother.

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Chapter Feature:

DSC_0931"Many of us are working to create a better future for our children and grandchildren - and we've got lots of possibilities and real ideas about how to do that. We've got a bright future if we want it."

- Carl Shoupe, Benham, KY

 

Visions from Black Mountain coverVisions from Black Mountain

Residents of Benham, Lynch and Cumberland share their visions for the unique Tri-Cities area.

Regular Meetings:

We meet every other month on the second Monday at 6 p.m. We move our meeting locations around the county. Check the calender!

Chapter Organizer:

Tanya Turner
Whitesburg, KY 41858
606-632-0051