June 14, 2012
Non-Profit U.S. Postage PAID Lexington, Ky. Permit No. 513
Week in Washington and Day of Action leads to 22 arrests
Change Service Requested
Volume 31 Number 4
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth P.O. Box 1450 London, Ky. 40743
balancing the scales
Editorial: Planning for a lowcoal future; Kentucky Power decision a clear indicator pg. 3 Anne Braden – Reminding us our past is still present pg. 5 Community victory: Rowan chapter members’ efforts help move Morehead State University to transition away from burning coal pg. 6 Water testing program making a big splash with members pg. 7 KFTC members turn attention on Beshear at EPA hearing pg. 8
Good information – the plan for good democracy during elections pg. 11
balancing the scales, June 14, 2012
Table of Contents Letter to the Editor Boyle County KFTC group raises awareness with film screening Editorial: Planning for a low-coal future; Kentucky Power decision a clear indicator
page 3 page 3
Local Updates Louisville Loves Mountains festival continues success, growth page 4 Northern Kentucky chapter members are out and about page 5 Northern Kentucky Earth Day event roundup page 5 Anne Braden – Reminding us our past is still present 5 Community victory: Rowan chapter members’ efforts help move Morehead State University to transition away from burning coal page 6 Water testing program making a big splash with members page 7 Canary Project Updates KFTC members turn attention on Beshear at EPA hearing Week in Washington and Day of Action leads to 22 arrests Strong eastern Kentucky voices add to Women’s Tribunal AEP decides not to retrofit dirty coal burner near Louisa
page 8 page 9 page 10 page 10
Voter Empowerment Update Good information – the plan for good democracy during elections New Power PAC engages in Louisville Senate District 19 race
page 11 page 12
Economic Justice Update Gearing up for the Blue Ribbon Tax Commission
New Energy and Transition Update Energy audit conducted at KFTC’s London office page 14 Survey finds bipartisan majority wants clean energy page 14 Training teaches members how to renew and reform their rural electric cooperatives with grassroots actions page 15
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth is a statewide grassroots social justice organi zation working for a new balance of power and a just society. KFTC uses direct-action organizing to accomplish the following goals: • foster democratic values • change unjust institutions • empower individuals • overcome racism and other discrimination • communicate a message of what’s possible • build the organization • help people participate • win issues that affect the common welfare • have fun KFTC membership dues are $15 to $50 per year, based on ability to pay. No one is denied membership because of inability to pay. Membership is open to anyone who is committed to equality, democracy and nonviolent change.
KFTC Steering Committee Steve Boyce, Chairperson Sue Tallichet, Vice-Chairperson Dana Beasley Brown, Secretary-Treasurer K.A. Owens, Immediate Past Chair Rick Handshoe, At-Large Member
I want to help KFTC build power! Name: Address: City, State Zip: Phone: Email:
Suggested membership dues are $15-$50 annually. ____ One-time Gift: Amount $_____________ ____ Sustaining Giver: I will contribute $___ (check one): __ Monthly __ Quarterly __ Annually Authorized Signature: ________________________ Date: _____________ Circle one: Mastercard American Express
I want to make my donation to the following organization (check one): ____ KFTC (not tax-deductible) ____ Kentucky Coalition (tax-deductible)
Card #: __ __ __ __ - __ __ __ __ - __ __ __ __ - __ __ __ __
B a n k W i t h d r a w a l / C re d i t C a rd P a y m e n t Authorization: I authorize KFTC/KY Coalition to debit my account or charge my credit card in accordance with the information provided. I understand that this authority will remain in effect until cancelled or changed by reasonable notification to KFTC/KY Coalition.
Cardholder’s name (as it appears on the card):
Who asked you to join KFTC?
Expiration date: ___ ___ / ___ ___
_____________________________ Date: ____________ For bank drafts, return this form with a voided check from the account you wish to have the withdrawal made. Make checks payable to KFTC or the Kentucky Coalition and mail to: KFTC • P.O. Box 1450 • London, Ky. 40743-1450.
Rosanne Fitts Klarer, Scott County Erika Skaggs, Central Kentucky Ted Withrow, Rowan County Ben Baker, Northern Kentucky Mary Love, Jefferson County Travis Lane, Bowling Green & Friends Carl Shoupe, Harlan County Cleveland Smith, Perry County Megan Naseman, Madison County Elizabeth Sanders, Letcher County Nathan Hall, Floyd County Alternates: Vacant, Scott County; Christian Torp, Central Kentucky; Lisa Bryant, Rowan County; Katie Meyer, Northern Kentucky; Christine Farmer, Jefferson County; Vacant, Bowling Green & Friends; Roy Silver, Harlan County; Tiffany Skiles, Perry County; Meta Mendel-Reyes, Madison County; Ada Smith, Letcher County; Bev May, Floyd County
balancing the scales is published by Kentuckians For The Commonwealth and mailed third class from Lexington, Kentucky. Reader contributions and letters to the editor should be sent to 250 Southland Drive Suite #4, Lexington, KY. 40503 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscriptions are $20 per year.
balancing the scales, June 14, 2012
Letter to the Editor
Boyle County KFTC group raises awareness with film screening
Dear editor, KFTC members hosted a showing of The Last Mountain at the Boyle County Public Library in Danville on April 22. A small but enthusiastic crowd of 17 gathered for the viewing. The Last Mountain is based in part on Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s 2005 book Crimes Against Nature and features Kennedy and a cast of activists and experts. The film considers the health consequences of mining and burning coal and looks at the context and history of environmental laws in the United States. The mining and burning of coal is at the epicenter of America’s struggle to balance its energy needs with environmental concerns. That concern is center-stage in the Coal River Valley in West Virginia, where a small but passionate group of ordinary citizens are trying to stop big coal corporations like Massey Energy (now Alpha Natural Resources) from continuing the devastating practice of mountaintop removal mining. These citizens are also exploring a proposal to build a wind farm on a mountain in the heart of coal country, rather than deforesting and demolishing the mountain for the coal seams within. The film proclaimed that wind resources are plentiful in this part of the U.S., that wind is a more benign
source of power than coal, that it has the potential to eliminate the destructive aspects of coal, and that wind farming would provide many domestic jobs. The viewing of this film was a natural follow-up to our Boyle County KFTC group’s Mountain Witness Tour to Lynch, Kentucky on Friday, April 13, where we saw firsthand the devastating effects of destroying mountains to get at the coal seams buried deep within. In the valleys of Appalachia, a battle is being fought over our remaining mountains. It is a battle with severe consequences affecting every American, regardless of their social status, economic background and where they live. It is a battle that has taken many lives and continues to take more the longer it goes on. It is a battle over protecting our health and the environment from the destructive power of Big Coal. Like Anne Frank, I believe that people are intrinsically good. If everyone saw this documentary, mountaintop removal mining would stop! I cannot believe that an enlightened citizenry could allow this barbaric practice to continue. Jim Porter Danville, Kentucky
Editorial: Planning for a low-coal future; Kentucky Power decision a clear indicator From the Lexington Herald Leader— Jun 1, 2012
There are some forces that can be reckoned with: We can beat ignorance with education, get in out of the rain, build safer roads and take antibiotics to fight infections. But it’s the better part of wisdom to know when you’re facing things that won’t give way. Forces of nature, time and markets almost always win out. Volcanos, floods and fires don’t listen to persuasion; no one’s conquered mortality and no amount of grumbling will undo the technological changes that have transformed how we communicate. The management of Kentucky Power acknowledged that time and economics were simply not to be overcome Wednesday when it withdrew an application to spend (and charge ratepayers for) $1 billion on pollution controls at the 1960s Big Sandy coal-fired electricity generating plant. Kentucky Power, assailed by Kentucky’s pro-coal forces, had retracted an earlier decision to abandon these coal plants. But, with strong opposition before the Public Service Commission to spending that would raise customer bills by 30 percent, the company turned again and withdrew the application before the PSC ruled.
While the chorus has been long and loud about the so-called war on coal fomented by nameless bureaucrats and clueless outsiders, the reality is that coal in Kentucky, particularly Eastern Kentucky, has been pounded by much more relentless forces. True, federal clean-air laws going back to 1990, when George H.W. Bush was president, have played a role by requiring that the cost of generating power include the cost of reducing emissions of hazardous material into the atmosphere. Once clean air became one of the expenses of generating electricity by burning coal, then coal’s days as a low-cost fuel were numbered. But other factors were at work. Once the accessible seams had been mined, the cost of getting coal out of the ground grew, while better techniques for extracting natural gas, and a developing national energy market changed the landscape. Coal’s share of U.S. electricity production has dropped from 50 percent in 2005 to below 40 percent late last year. Kentucky’s share of U.S. coal production has plummeted from 22.1 percent in 1975 to 10 percent in 2009. Kentucky Power has acknowledged the new reality. It had to in order to serve both its shareholders and its customers.
KFTC Offices and Staff MAIN OFFICE Morgan Brown, Robin Daugherty & Burt Lauderdale P.O. Box 1450 London, Kentucky 40743 606-878-2161 Fax: 606-878-5714 email@example.com
FIELD OFFICES Louisville Jessica George, Jerry Hardt, Colette Henderson and Nancy Reinhart 901 Franklin Street Louisville, Ky 40206 502-589-3188 Whitesburg Tanya Turner P.O. Box 463 Whitesburg, Ky 41858 606-632-0051 Berea Lisa Abbott, Amy Hogg, Carissa Lenfert, Sara Pennington and Kevin Pentz 140 Mini Mall Drive Berea, KY 40403 859-986-1277
Teri Blanton 118 Baugh Street Berea, Ky. 40403 859-986-1648 Central Kentucky Tim Buckingham, Jessica Hays Lucas, Erik Hungerbuhler, Heather Roe Mahoney, Dave Newton and Ondine Quinn 250 Plaza Drive Suite 4 Lexington, Ky 40503 859-276-0563 Northern Kentucky Joe Gallenstein 859-380-6103 Floyd County Kristi Kendall 606-226-4159
e-mail any staff member at firstname.lastname@example.org except for Jessica Hays Lucas use email@example.com
Kentucky’s state and local leaders must do the same. They are battling forces that can’t be beaten in the long term. If they want to serve the people and the regions that produce coal, as well as future ratepayers, they must plan for a future with less coal. That means using coal-severance dollars to develop economic opportunities in the coal fields through investments in infrastructure, entrepreneurship and education. To help all ratepayers, it means developing an energy strategy that includes conservation and efficient building standards while diversifying energy sources to include wind, solar, biomass and other new fuels.
On the cover: Stanley Sturgill, Harlan County, took his message to Washington D.C. during the Week-in-Wasthington. Photo Credit for cover and page 9 photos: ilovemountains.org
balancing the scales, June 14, 2012
Louisville Loves Mountains festival continues success, growth The fourth annual Louisville Loves Mountains festival on May 18 was wildly successful. Hosted by the Jefferson County KFTC Chapter in coalition with Heine Brothers’ Coffee and Carmichael’s Bookstore, the event ran smoother then ever, had more volunteers than needed and was a great opportunity to talk with attendees about the upcoming primary election. The chapter distributed more than 500 voter guides and rallied folks to participate in the primary election. The festival was hosted in Senate District 19, where there was a hotly contested Democratic primary that included a long-time KFTC member. The outreach helped that district, which has more than 900 KFTC members, achieve 25 percent voter turnout compared to 12-13 percent across the state. Since the festival is held annually, many people were anticipating it and were excited to attend, enjoy the music and guest speakers, and also take the opportunity to renew their membership. The festival also recruited more new KFTC members than it ever has since the festival was first held in 2009. Additionally, Louisville Loves Mountains raised close to $8,000 for KFTC. This year’s line up consisted of some old faces but also some new and inspiring acts – including the youth from Our EarthNow (if you haven’t checked out the video of their piece at Louisville Loves Mountains, visit www.kftc.org/ dots), a Burrundi Drum and Dance Corps and the explosive 23 String Band. There was a special tent run by SPROUTS for the kids to color Louisville Loves Mountains pictures, sign a big card to Governor Steve Beshear and do muffin-top removal. Cindy Lamb, a KFTC member and SPROUTS representative, solicited donations and asked friends to prepare muffins for the activity. Volunteers showed up with 70 muffins, and they were all gone by the end of the festival. That means 70 children were educated about the true costs of coal. Extra volunteers walked the crowd with voter guides, including Molly Tevisorona, the “Kentucky Crusader,” who ran in a “mud race” the next day in Sellersburg, Indiana, to raise money for KFTC.
She came in full costume, complete with a crown. Erik Reece gave the keynote address, about which the event’s live blogger Laura Read wrote: Erik Reece, author of Lost Mountain, is about to take the stage! The book is such a powerful account of mountaintop removal, one that surely will convey to even the most staunch skeptic the irreversibly destructive effect of this practice on Kentucky’s biodiversity. In an uplifting start to his address Reece affirmed for the audience that grassroots movements such as ours have a powerful voice in state and national politics as he relayed the statistic that 36 out of 48 applications for mountaintop removal permits were [blocked] by the EPA last year. That’s 36 mountains saved, but
the fight doesn’t end there. Reece was also quick to point out that Kentucky’s highest cancer rates occur in regions [a]ffected by mountaintop removal. In addition to being susceptible to health problems, the people of Appalachia are in danger of a crashing economy. Reece pointed out that natural gas is fast encroaching on the coal industry, and if coal were to become too expensive (or obsolete altogether) that region would be completely destitute. Drawing on an example of how solar energy has saved a Cleveland community, Reece emphasized the importance of transitioning Appalachia to a clean energy economy; not just for the environment, but for the stability of the people. In that vein, Reece outlined three principles by which all economic structures should be measured: integrity, sustainability, and beauty. He furthered the
discussion of these principles by using the metaphor of a coal mine vs. a natural watershed. While a mine is destructive and finite, a watershed is a natural source of energy and sustenance. If we follow the watershed principle when designing energy and economic policies, we are sure to meet sound ends.
Louisville Loves Mountains is an example of how a well-planned community event can help build great grassroots power and raise funds. Since 2009 the festival has recruited close to 200 members. In addition, many folks have become involved with KFTC on a deeper level through participating or attending the festival. The chapter looks forward to next year, which will be the 5th annual.
Clockwise: Erik Reece speaks; the crowd gathers to watch the performances; Appalatin entertains from the stage; and the River City Drum Corps performs.
balancing the scales, June 14, 2012
Northern Kentucky chapter members are out and about
Northern Kentucky members have been busy getting the word out recently. Festivals, yard sales and farmers markets all kicked off in late spring and are providing a great opportunity for members to have conversations in the community. Members took time at the Appalachian Festival at Coney Island to discuss the importance of renewable energy, and the positive impact sustainable energy could have on both the economy and the environment.
The message was well received – the chapter recruited 30 new members and raised more than $300. Several northern Kentucky members also helped the chapter staff a yard sale at Ockerman Middle School. Members used the opportunity to pass out local voter guides, discuss the upcoming election in the fall, and raised more than $50 to help the chapter’s goal of exceeding $1,200 in grassroots fundraising for the year. Finally, starting in May, the chapter is back again at the Covington Farmers
Market. This year the market is located at the intersection of Park and Court streets in Covington and offers a great opportunity for members to reach out to people in the urban core who care about sustainability. All of these events are just the beginning for the chapter this year. In the months ahead members intend to make their presence felt by continuing their meaningful work with allies, and by having a presence at other upcoming festivals.
The Northern Kentucky chapter had a great Earth Day weekend in late April. The chapter took Earth Day as an opportunity to work with ally organizations, register voters, recruit new members and give back to the community through a variety of events. On the Friday before Earth Day, KFTC members tabled at Northern Kentucky University to discuss mountaintop removal and raise awareness about the upcoming primary election on May 22. The event, which was hosted by KFTC ally Environmentally Concerned Organization of Students, proved to be a great chance to work with allies, regis-
ter students to vote, and talk to students about changes that can be achieved by working together. The next morning, KFTC members made their way to Goebel Park in Covington to help Keep Covington Beautiful and the Center for Great Neighborhoods with the Great American Cleanup and talk about what members were doing to build a more sustainable community in northern Kentucky. Members were excited about the opportunity to remove invasive species like honeysuckle from the park, as well as discuss KFTC’s work with neighbors. No sooner was that event over than
members went across the river to help the Sierra Club at the Earth Day Festival at Sawyer Point, and to share KFTC’s newsletters with friends across the river. Members were excited about the opportunity to talk about mountaintop removal mining, the growth of the local chapter, and hand out a few copies of balancing the scales. The weekend was a great success! Through the three events the chapter recruited eight new members, registered 11 new voters, spread awareness about the devastation upstream in Appalachia, and raised more than $100.
A film review by Elizabeth Sanders
thing better in the most dire situations. That’s what you want to be a part of.” Braden’s words forever matched her actions in everything she did. In the words of an old friend and fellow organizer who attended the showing, “She was obsessed with justice.” Braden took on many roles throughout her life – organizer, journalist, mother, wife, teacher, mentor – among many others. None of these roles could be held completely separate from the others just as our work we do today cannot be separated from that of our friends and allies. Our work on transition must continue to be that of a just transition, our anti-racism work cannot be separate from our work against mountaintop re-
moval – everything is interconnected. As Anne Braden has shown us, making these connections does not make us weaker because there is seemingly more work to do, but rather it is making these connections that make us stronger, allowing us to grow in our strength and vision, moving forward together as a community. I would like to thank Anne Lewis and Mimi Pickering for so beautifully sharing Anne Braden’s life and wisdom with all of us. Mimi, who is a Letcher County KFTC member, answered questions from the audience after the showing and expressed her hope that we take the inspiration from Braden to continue working for social justice.
Northern Kentucky Earth Day event roundup
Anne Braden – Reminding us our past is still present
The Kentucky premiere of Anne Braden: Southern Patriot occurred on June 9 during Appalshop’s 26th annual Seedtime on the Cumberland Festival in Whitesburg. The film celebrates the life of Braden, a Kentucky civil rights leader who died in 2006 and whose amazing legacy lives on through all those who carry on her passion for social justice. The filmmakers, Anne Lewis and Mimi Pickering, took the audience on a journey – on Anne Braden’s journey. From the beginning, Braden’s life was not just parallel to but completely entwined with what was happening in the world around her. Braden said, “Human beings have always been able to envision something better…All through history there have been people who have envisioned some-
Letters to the Editor: Got something to say?
email or call Tim Buckingham
Get Involved: If you live in northern Kentucky and want to help support the chapter, here are three great events that need volunteer help: Roebling Festival near the Farmers Market in Covington, on June 23; WNKU’s Browngrass Festival in Rabbit Hash, on July 21; and the Liberty Row Block Party on 7th Street and Liberty in Newport. Contact KFTC Organizer Joe Gallenstein if you can help out: joe@ kftc.org or 859-380-6103.
Last Gift Date Printed On Front Cover! We’ve heard from a lot of members that they would love to stay current in their membership dues, but just don’t know when their renewal date is. So now we are printing your last gift date with your mailing label*. Renew by mail: Send in a contribution and the form. Renew by phone: Call Morgan to pay by credit card: 606-878-2161. Renew online: It’s easy to make a donation online at www.kftc.org/donate. * Let us know if the last gift date looks wrong. Databases can be imperfect. Keep in mind that it takes about two weeks for the paper to be printed and on your doorstep. If you’ve made a donation in that time, it won’t make it on the label.
tim@KFTC.org or 859-276-0563
balancing the scales, June 14, 2012
Local Updates Community victory: Rowan chapter members’ efforts help move Morehead State University to transition away from burning coal by Kristen Cherry
After many years of pressure from the local KFTC members and its neighbors, Morehead State University (MSU) has decided to switch from burning coal to natural gas at its campus power plant. Rowan County chapter member Doug Doerrfeld said this transition marked a large victory for the community. “You can feel that the tides are beginning to turn against coal as a source of power,” Doerrfeld said. “You can feel that change is in the air.” The Rowan County chapter had been putting pressure on the university to transition off coal, writing letters to the editor of the Morehead News and meeting with MSU President Dr. Wayne Andrews. They also made an open records request to the university and acquired documents through the Kentucky Division for Air Quality, both of which alerted members to the high levels of pollution resulting from the coal plant. The obsolete coal-burning boilers have for many years violated Kentucky air quality laws and regulations, resulting in dozens of notices of violation from the Division for Air Quality. Yet the plant continued to operate. Rowan County chapter members fi rst made the public aware of this situation in 2007, after a coal-burning boiler at the facility failed a compliance test. “The environmental destruction, pollution and health dangers of coal
Summer Fundraising Campaign:
burning and mining coal are well documented,” chapter members said in a public statement at that time. “Soot and other toxic emissions from coal-fi red boilers damage human health, the biological environment and our planet’s atmosphere. The people of Morehead and Rowan County deserve better.” Although the university was able to get $5.8 million from the state government to add pollution controls to the plant, this did not eliminate all of the negative environmental and health effects caused by the plant. “It didn’t address the fact that the coal they burn at Morehead is from surface mining in eastern Kentucky,” Doerrfeld said. “And we made it a point to point out the fact that there’s enormous costs to community members.” Members noted that the change represents a growing shift away from coal for economic reasons. “The economics of coal are coming fast. This may be the last downturn. Coal may no longer be the fuel of choice,” said Ted Withrow. “Appalachian coal is expensive. We’re in a bust cycle. It’s not good news for the miners, but it’s time to move into transition.” Doerrfeld says the transition has already begun to make a difference in the Morehead community. He said that when driving into Morehead, “You could just see the layer of sulfur pollution lying on the town.” However, without the burning of coal on MSU’s campus, “The skies are much clearer and much brighter in Morehead now.”
Become a Sustaining Giver or increase the amount or frequency of your current Sustaining Gift by July 31 and receive a FREE bag of Heine Brothers’ Mountain Dream Coffee!
Rowan County members claim a long-sought victory; MSU to transition away from coal.
KFTC members receive discounts at local businesses in Covington As the Northern Kentucky chapter has grown, many members who own local businesses have decided to show support for the work members do! If you stop by one of the businesses with your copy of balancing the scales, you can get your KFTC Troublemaker’s Discount:
Groove Coffee Shop: 640 Main Street Roebling Point Book Store: 306 Greenup Street Garden Grove Organics: 29 East 7th Street Pike Street Lounge: 266 Pike Street Members thank these and other supportive businesses in northern Kentucky and across the state! This discount does not include the sale of alcohol.
balancing the scales, June 14, 2012
Water testing program making a big splash with members
About 20 KFTC members from 10 of community organizing, including counties met in Prestonsburg on May tips for having good conversations, 12 for a training about ways to use developing strategy and commucommunity organizing and communicating publicly about water qualnity science to enforce the Clean Water ity concerns. They also learned Act and protect the health of their basic provisions of the Clean Water communities. Act and gained an understanding of “Knowledge is power,” noted several key indicators of in-stream Carter Castle from Magoffin County. water quality. “Water testing is a good way to get At the end of the workshop each other people involved. To be honparticipant took home a binder full of est, lots of people information and don’t pay much a hand-held meattention to soter they can use “Water testing is a good called experts. to take basic, imway to get other people inBut information portant measurethey get from volved. To be honest, lots of ments of stream health, includtheir neighbors people don’t pay much ating temperature, holds more water.” tention to so-called experts. conductivity and The training Total Dissolved But information they get Solids (TDS). was the first of As Eric Chance many that KFTC from their neighbors holds of Appalachian plans to offer more water.” Voices explained, to members as measuring the part of a larger Carter Castle conductivity and Community SciMagoffin County TDS levels of a ence and Public Health Project. stream is a bit Tw o o t h e r like taking a perally organizations, Appalachian Voicson’s temperature. The results provide es and the Sierra Club, also contriba good indication if the person, or in uted technical information and equipthis case the stream, is sick. ment to make the day successful. Then additional tests are needed KFTC members Bob Burns, Fern to learn more about the cause and exNafziger and Cleveland Smith worked act nature of the problem. on a team, along with staff from all Stream scientists consider an Apthree organizations, to plan and help palachian stream to be severely imfacilitate the agenda. paired and unable to support aquatic Throughout the day the group life if the conductivity is above 500 discussed key principles and practices (measured in units called microsie-
Kentucky offering $700,00 in grants for on-farm energy efficiency and renewable energy production In late May, Governor Steve Beshear announced that $700,000 in funds from Kentucky’s Agricultural Development Fund would be made available to farmers for up to 25 percent reimbursement of qualified purchases on energy saving items up to $10,000. Permissible items include, but are not limited to, energy audits, energy efficient farm building components, on-farm energy upgrades and on-farm energy efficiency training. KFTC member Adam Barr used the grant money to help purchase a solar water pump for his Meade County farm’s irrigation system. Learn more about Barr’s system at www.kftc.org/farm-energy. Contact Bill McCloskey or Angie Justice at 502-564-4627 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Members from across eastern Kentucky gathered to learn how to be a citizen water tester for their communities. mens, or µS). Healthy Appalachian streams generally have conductivity levels around 200 µS. In comparison, Floyd County KFTC member Rick Handshoe recently recorded a conductivity reading above 4,000 µS in a polluted creek behind his home. Handshoe encouraged the group to test regularly at sites with good water, as well as in areas with pollution concerns. “That’s so important,” he stressed. “Testing good streams is one way we can work to protect what we’ve got and hold companies accountable when they do cause pollution. I’ve learned that the hard way at my place.” Participants also learned how to upload all their data including photos, documents, written descriptions
and actual in-stream water quality measurements, to a publicly accessible online database. That website, www. appalachianwaterwatch.org, has been built to encourage and facilitate citizen monitoring of water quality in the coalfields of Central Appalachia. Before heading home, members developed plans for which streams they would test and ways to educate and involve other people in their community. The full group plans to come back together again in August to share experiences and continue learning. Additional trainings will soon be scheduled for residents in other eastern Kentucky counties. Contact Tanya Turner at 606-2692843 or email@example.com for more information about upcoming trainings.
Canary Project Updates
balancing the scales, June 14, 2012
KFTC members turn attention on Beshear at EPA hearing
KFTC members delivered a strong message at two public hearings in early June that the Beshear administration needs to be accountable for failing to enforce the Clean Water Act, and that the U.S. EPA should be allowed to do its job. By not enforcing the law, there are serious health consequences for people who live near coal mining operations and downstream, members emphasized. “Each time a [water pollution] permit is issued, the Beshear administration is killing citizens,” testified Samantha Cole of Beattyville. The chance to offer comments on the enforcement of clean water laws came after state officials requested hearings in order to challenge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s action to withhold 36 water pollution permits for coal mining in Kentucky. These permits are being blocked by the EPA because they don’t comply with the Clean Water Act, but the Beshear administration wants to issue them anyway. “Make no mistake about what the purpose of this hearing is,” said Bev May, a Floyd County member, during a press conference with the Sierra Club and other allies prior to the June 5 public hearing in Frankfort. “It is to bully the EPA. It is to try to create an environment in which the agency charged with protecting our health is intimidated to where they can’t do their jobs.” Speakers at the press conference emphasized the devastating health impacts in communities with mountaintop removal mining, including 50 percent higher rates of cancer and 42 percent higher rates of birth defects, compared with non-mining communities. Additionally, the EPA’s denial of these permits is necessary, since coal companies are refusing to follow the law and the state government is not properly enforcing it, according to KFTC speaker Doug Doerrfeld. Many supporters of the coal industry were at the public hearings. A large portion of those were coal miners who participated in pro-coal rallies before the Frankfort and June 7 Pikeville hearings. They are miners who fear for their jobs because they work for an industry in decline. But that decline has more to do with cheap natural gas, depressed markets, and high coal stockpiles result-
You can submit written comments about these 36 permits to the EPA until June 21. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Docket ID: EPA-HQOW-2012-0315” in the subject line. Or mail your comments to Water Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OW-2012-0315, US EPA, Mail Code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington DC 20460. Learn more at: www.epa. gov/region4/kycoalminehearings/index.html.
Members gathered with miners and their families outside the Frankfort Convention Center while waiting to get in and voice their concerns. The coal industry held a rally, and KFTC and allies held a press conference prior to the event. ing from a mild winter, pointed out Matt Wasson of Appalachian Voices. “If EPA was to back off, it would not create a single new job,” Wasson said. “It would not allow east Kentucky to sell a chunk more of coal. But it would give a greater advantage to the most irresponsible operators in the state.” The first dozen or so people to speak at the Frankfort hearing were members of the Kentucky General Assembly (public officials are allowed to go first). Sens. David Williams, Robert Stivers, Robin Webb, Dorsey Ridley and Reps. Jim Gooch, Hubert Collins, Ben Waide, Stan Lee, Brent Yonts, Fitz Steele, Leslie Combs, Ted Edmonds and Kim King were all present to deliver a message that the EPA action “is taking away rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” in the words of Rep. Gooch. While the coal miners in the crowd cheered each of them enthusiastically, at least half of those legislators are ones who have been lukewarm to stronger mine safety laws or actually worked to weaken mine safety legislation. Rep. Joni Jenkins of Louisville, where her constituents are affected daily by pollution from the burning of coal and disposal of coal ash, had a different view. “I know there is no ‘my water’ separate from ‘your water,’” she said in
support of the EPA’s position. Many others focused on clean water and good health, reminding the EPA to stand strong and enforce the law as they are obligated to do despite political pressure from coal companies and politicians. Speakers ranged from directly affected people to spokespeople of environmental organizations to current and former miners to 12-year-old Myles Maxson from Madison County. Former coal miner Truman Hurt has seen many of the mountains around his home in Perry County destroyed and much of the water poisoned as a result of the lack of enforcement. “I’m ashamed of our state officials for not doing their jobs,” he said. Sam Avery, another member of KFTC, spoke to miners’ fears that denying these permits would result in job loss. “Coal does not create jobs. Investment creates jobs,” Avery said. He described how cheap it is to invest in coal, because coal companies do not have to pay the costs of polluted water and air or children with health conditions. Avery called for jobs that don’t result in this devastation. “We can have the jobs without mining, without polluting anything.” KFTC and allies did not organize a group presence at the Pikeville hearing,
where a similar hearing three years ago turned into a political rally and hostile atmosphere where members felt unsafe and were booed-down when trying to testify. That atmosphere was even more volatile this year, egged on by public officials such as Perry County Clerk Haven King, who encouraged the pro-coal supporters to “boo the treehuggers” when they spoke. Other speakers made veiled threats against EPA officials. Many pro-coal speakers said the EPA’s action was “not about water” but instead about the Obama administration trying to end coal mining because he did not carry Kentucky in his election in 2008. Kristen Cherry contributed to this story.
12-year-old Myles Maxson from Madison County addressed the EPA.
balancing the scales, June 14, 2012
Canary Project Updates
Week in Washington and Day of Action leads to 22 arrests
Seventeen KFTC members were part of a group of about 150 participating in the Alliance for Appalachia’s annual Week in Washington, which took place on June 2-6. They sought support for a just economic transition in Central Appalachia that includes an end to the destruction caused by mountaintop removal and valley fills. Seven were arrested on June 6 after occupying Kentucky Representative Hal Rogers’ office to demand justice for those affected by mountaintop removal and poisoned water. The Kentuckians arrested were taking part in a nonviolent Day of Action to End Mountaintop Removal coordinated by Appalachia Rising, which included a rally and visits to the offices of state officials. In all, 22 citizens were arrested in offices of congressional representatives from West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. Kentuckians arrested were Carey Henson, Erika Skaggs, Stanley Sturgill, Mary Love, Tress La’Ree and Teri Blanton, and Virginia resident Kat Wallace. All were released the evening of June 6. Sturgill, a retired coal miner and mine inspector as well as a member of KFTC, described the need for a face-toface meeting with Hal Rogers in an editorial published by The Hill: “I’m coming to Washington because I’m tired of having a so-called representative for my home district that ignores our people to represent King Coal,” he wrote. “I’m sick of seeing the people I love suffer every day from mountaintop removal.” Recent peer-reviewed studies have shown widespread devastating health impacts linked to surface mining. Residents near mountaintop removal are 50 percent more likely to die of cancer and 42 percent more likely to be born with birth defects compared with Appalachian people in non-mining areas. Eastern Kentucky counties in Kentucky’s Fifth Congressional District, represented by Rep. Rogers, are number one in the nation in the amount of mountaintop removal and water pollution and nearly dead last in a variety of quality of life indicators. Members arrived at Rogers’ office about 10 a.m. the morning of June 6. They hoped he would meet with them and agree to three demands: • an immediate stop to mountaintop
Kentucky citizens again requested a meeting with Rep. Hal Rogers while in Washington, D.C. and again were denied. Citizens staged a sit-in until eventually security began to make arrests. removal coal mining; • a face-to-face meeting between Rogers and concerned citizens of Kentucky; • a commitment to the diversification of Kentucky’s economy, in particular re-directing coal subsidies toward energy efficiency, renewable energies and re-training for former miners. Rogers not only is a staunch defender of mountaintop removal and a denier of its health and economic consequences, but he has also led the charge by House Republicans and some Democrats to dismantle the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Nearly 20 people visited the office of Rogers, seeking a meeting in order to present the demands. After about three hours of peaceful presence without a meeting, the Capitol Police were called to remove the unwelcome visitors. Most left when asked to do so, with some deciding to stay to help put the spotlight on Rogers’ dismal record. “After seven years of going in circles, asking just for basic protections for our people and being blocked by our
own representatives who are supposed to be passing legislation to protect our district, we don’t see any other way. Appalachia deserves better,” said Teri Blanton of Madison County. In total, 22 folks were arrested and charged with unlawful entry, a misdemeanor. They occupied the offices of Reps. Rogers (R-Ky), Nick Rahall (DWV), Morgan Griffith (R-Va) and Jimmy Duncan (R-Tn). All four have been advocates for preventing the enforcement of water protection laws – at least as they apply to coal companies – and supporters of mountaintop removal mining.
In addition to Rep. Rogers’ office, Sturgill and some KFTC members also visited the offices of U.S. Reps. Ben Chandler, Brett Guthrie, Ed Whitfield, Geoffrey Davis and Sen. Mitch McConnell earlier in the week. Others had meetings with officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Office of Surface Mining and the National Park Service. EPA officials were surprised when showed photos of orange water from the municipal water supplies in Floyd and Knott counties. They said they are used to water that looks like that in streams where coal is mined, but not in the public water supply. Members of Congress are being asked to support and become cosponsors of the Clean Water Protection Act. The bill, H.R. 1375, was introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey and David Reichert of Washington state and currently has 123 cosponsors, including Chandler and Rep. John Yarmuth. “This bill alleviates the wide array of human and environmental health issues directly correlated with mountaintop removal coal mining by restoring the Clean Water Act to its original intent,” said Pallone. “By redefining fill material, we’ll be able to keep toxic mining waste out of our nation’s streams.” The Week in Washington utilized a variety of tactics, but all ultimately held the same demand. “The main thing I’d like to see is to have mountaintop removal stopped. We don’t need it,” Sturgill said. “The only reason we do is because it’s cheaper for the coal operator. It takes away coal mine jobs and destroys our health.”
Stanley Sturgill and Mary Love delivered their straightforward messages.
balancing the scales, June 14, 2012
Canary Project Updates
Strong eastern Kentucky voices add to Women’s Tribunal
Several KFTC members participated in a powerful program to draw attention to the connections between what is happening to the land and people in Central Appalachia and related conditions throughout the world. They shared testimony with other women from the region about the health, economic, community and environmental impacts of coal at the Central Appalachian Women’s Tribunal on Climate Justice. The event took place May 10 in Charleston, West Virginia. KFTC Floyd County member Bev May drew attention to the growing number of medical studies linking elevated rates of a variety of health problems to strip mining “All the research points to what mountain people have known since mountaintop removal began – it is not possible to destroy our mountains without destroying us,” May said. “It’s not possible to poison our streams without poisoning our children for untold generations to come. The research is not complete, but there’s more than enough research to justify an immediate moratorium on mountaintop removal.” Ivy Brashear also referenced evidence of the negative health impacts resulting from mining experienced as she grew up in an area with coal in eastern Kentucky. That reality weighs on her, she testified, as she thinks of raising her own family in the mountains.
“I will have to make a lot of important choices in my life, but of all the major choices I will have to make, wondering whether or not it’s safe to birth my future children in my homeland of eastern Kentucky should not even have to register on that list,” Brashear said.” I, nor any other young woman who wishes to have children in the place of their own birth, should ever have to think about the ramifications our future children might have to endure simply from living where our families have lived for generations.” The tribunal was sponsored by the Loretto Community at the United Nations, the Feminist Task Force of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, the Civil Society Institute and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. It is one of about 20 that have been held around the world, and the findings will be shared at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil in June. Sharman Chapman-Crane talked about how coal companies have used ongoing and proposed mining to threaten people and divide communities In Letcher County. That has included punishing people and organizations who were friends and associates because they associated with her. “The fabric of our lives is being shredded. I call it the slicing and dicing at the company’s hands. The corpora-
tions are masters in these techniques.” The Rev. Donna Aros reflected on her life in Louisa, where the water is not safe to drink, the community is covered with coal dust and ash, and too many people have tumors, heart disease, cancer and breathing problems. “God created the land in all its beauty and glory – the water, pristine and necessary for life – providing for all our needs in abundance,” Aros said.
American Electric Power (AEP) company announced in late May that it was withdrawing its request to have its ratepayers foot the bill for a $1 billion retrofit of its Big Sandy coal-burning power plant. AEP had been pushing a plan to upgrade the old power plant that would have resulted in a 30 percent rate increase for customers throughout eastern Kentucky and cost the average residential customer nearly $500 a year. The plant, which was built in the 1960s, is a major source of air pollution. In 2009 it was ranked among the 50 dirtiest coal plants in the U.S. The facility cannot comply with federal clean air standards without costly pollution control renovations. “I went to the hearing and listened
to AEP explain their plan. Their own presentation showed exactly why the proposal to invest more money in that old coal plant made no sense,” said Patty Wallace, who lives just a few miles from the plant in Lawrence County. “On top of our existing bills, all of us would have to pay a billion dollars in surcharges. I said, ‘We’d be fossil fools for sure to do that.’” “I’m glad to see that they are beginning to pay attention to what’s going on in the world. It’s time to invest in energy efficiency and clean energy,” Wallace added. Many local KFTC members, along with organizations like Earthjustice and the Sierra Club, criticized the company’s plan as wasteful and too expensive, and called for AEP to seize the opportunity
to invest in cleaner and cheaper energy solutions. But not everyone is happy with the decision. Rep. Rocky Adkins and other coal industry defenders said they supported the 30 percent rate increase because of the potential for coal mining jobs in eastern Kentucky. Earlier, in testimony before the Kentucky Public Service Commission, which must approve AEP’s decisions, a company representative said less than a third of the coal the plant burns comes from eastern Kentucky. And that figure would likely be less if the plant had scrubbers. At least a couple of major studies have concluded that any lost coal jobs could easily be replaced through a com-
“But the greed of a few have desecrated the garden, and fouled the rivers, bringing death and scarcity to our region. We dishonor God, and desperately harm our people and all living things. This is sin.” VIDEO: Some video of the tribunal is available through the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition at: www.ustream. tv/recorded/22485739.
Eastern Kentuckians who spoke at the Women’s Tribunal on May 10 were (clockwise from top left): Donna Aros of Lawrence County, Beverly May of Floyd County, Ivy Brashear of Perry County, and Sharman ChapmanCrane of Letcher County.
AEP decides not to retrofit dirty coal burner near Louisa
mitment to energy efficiency programs and a shift to clean and renewable forms of energy. It’s not yet clear what the company’s intentions are going forward and if it will take advantage of this opportunity. AEP spokesperson Ronn Robinson told WFPL-FM that the company made the decision to reconsider alternatives to coal because outlooks suggest more energy capacity in the market in the next few years. “We will look at everything again,” he said. “We will look at the continued use of coal, the scrubber may stay an option, we will look at gas, we will do a total review, in light of the new energy landscape to make the decision that’s in the best interest of our customers and ratepayers.”
balancing the scales, June 14, 2012
Voter Empowerment Update
Good information – the plan for good democracy during elections
Election season brings out the best of KFTC members. This spring members spent countless hours organizing and strategizing how to activate a voter base in the primary election while also working to lift up issues to voters and candidates. There are many intangible, powerful results from KFTC’s work in the primary election that aren’t so easy to enumerate – like leadership development, conversations with neighbors, the power of former felons telling their story for the first time or students casting their first ballot. Members found it a tough primary to organize around with the expectation of low turnout and a maze of many hundreds of candidates and different election protocols across the state. However, KFTC members did a great job of weaving through the maze and creating proactive products reflective of a true participatory democracy. In this election, KFTC members did an especially good job of integrating strategies and campaigns with the organization’s voter work – scheduling events to hit multiple goals and leveraging electoral work more directly to win campaigns. In Scott County, KFTC members launched a local voter guide (first time in Scott County) and got responses from a majority of city council candidates on such issues as curbside recycling and local taxation and budget. This product was a key way to move the recycling campaign forward while also meeting voter empowerment goals. In other Scott County news, both Senator Damon Thayer and his primary opponent Rick Hostetler for state senate responded to KFTC’s survey. In recent years, Thayer has used his Senate committee to prevent the Voting Rights Bill from receiving a vote. Hostetler was in favor of restoring voting rights to former felons, making an interesting space to talk about this issue and to show that many Republicans are in favor of restoring voting rights. Scott County members distributed more than 800 copies of the voter guide at community events ranging from NAACP and Earth Day events to the Scott County Republican Women’s Club meeting. In Jefferson County, KFTC members connected distribution of the voter
guide to the big Louisville Loves Mountains event and other outreach opportunities like door-to-door canvassing to discuss coal ash with neighbors in the south end of Louisville. Members distributed more than 500 guides and integrated voter work into the rest of the organization’s campaigns very well – in addition, they focused work on Senate District 19 (see New Power PAC article). “I’m really happy with how well we got information out. We handed out every single voter guide we had and kentuckyelection.org had unprecedented traffic,” said Kristah Star Lavalle, a Jefferson County member. “Getting
information out is key, and I’m really proud of how well we collected and distributed all the candidate responses to voters.” Several KFTC members also ran for public office in Louisville and some of them won, while others gained valuable experience and are considering running again. Central Kentucky chapter members are already planning field work for the general election – with more than a dozen voter registration events scheduled already. KFTC member Janet Tucker has spearheaded the effort, bringing in allies from other organizations like the NAACP.
Voter empowerment: (top) KFTC members gathered at the Louisville Loves Mountains festival and worked to educate voters with the KFTC Voter Guide. (bottom) Scott County members registered voters at an Earth Day concert with Ben Sollee and the Kite Fest.
Primary election by the numbers • 2,980,009 registered voters in Kentucky • 411,947 ballots cast in the primary • 13.82% voter turnout • 54,236 ballots cast in excess of the maximum (12%) turnout predicted by the Kentucky Secretary of State. • 56 candidates responding to our candidate survey including 13 of 18 congressional candidates • 32 calls to the Attorney General’s election fraud hotline • 196 voters registered by KFTC earlier this year while we were mostly focused on citizen lobbying in the General Assembly. • 23,513 page views on KentuckyElection.org in the month leading to the primary, a record that surpasses traffic during even the busiest general election from past years. • 17,162 KFTC Voter Guides distributed through mail or at community events in recent weeks. • 1.7 million times our voter mobilization advertisement was shown on Facebook to Kentuckians. • 5,200 KFTC voter mobilization calls to members and friends conducted at phone banks across the state.
balancing the scales, June 14, 2012
Voter Empowerment Update
New Power PAC engages in Louisville Senate District 19 race
One primary election for the Kentucky Senate generated a lot of interest – and some serious action – within KFTC. The 19th District State Senate seat in Jefferson County has been held by Tim Shaughnessy since 1989, but he is retiring at the end of his current term. Four Democrats ran in the May 22 primary to replace him: Sarah Lynn Cunningham, Gary Demling, Morgan McGarvey, and Amy Shoemaker. With no Republicans running, the election effectively decided the race. The race presented an unusual opportunity for KFTC’s New Power Political Action Committee (PAC) since Cunningham is a long-time KFTC member and active around a number of KFTC issues, especially clean energy. She is an active participant in the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance (KySEA) and advocate for the Clean Energy Opportunity Act. In addition, there is a large number of KFTC members (900) within this district, and a number of Jefferson County chapter leaders were enthusiastic about and energized by Cunningham’s candidacy. KFTC’s Executive Committee considered all the information available on this race and decided to activate the New Power PAC and to “spotlight” Cunningham to the KFTC members and other selected Senate 19 voters. They deliberated carefully and agreed this was an important opportunity to advance KFTC’s voter
empowerment and New Power goals simultaneously. KFTC formed the New Power PAC in the summer of 2010, and it was used heavily in the general election of 2010 and again during the Secretary of State race in November 2011. Though some KFTC members have reservations about the role of political action committees in our democracy today, the Steering Committee felt the PAC could be an important tool for KFTC to pursue our overall goal of an “authentic, participatory democracy.” KFTC has worked to take a different approach with the New Power PAC than other political action committees generally take. With the New Power PAC, KFTC first lifts up issues that members care about and believe should be considered by voters. KFTC promotes those issues with a positive, New Power, solution-oriented message. Then the New Power PAC “spotlights” selected candidates that clearly support or oppose KFTC’s issue goals so that voters have the full story of the candidate’s position and track record. Ultimately, KFTC uses the New Power PAC to make a difference in our government by encouraging the election of better, more accountable candidates. Although in KFTC’s view this approach is distinct from endorsing candidates, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) considers this “spotlighting” to be an endorsement.
WE ARE KENTUCKIANS We believe that right now, today, we have the best chance we’ve had in generations to build a new, clean energy economy with:
It’s a logical determination by the FEC, but still perhaps an important distinction for KFTC members. While clearly lending support to some candidates and encouraging voters to consider their record when voting, KFTC’s approach isn’t centered just around a candidate. So far, KFTC has selected important races where KFTC issues matter – such as voting rights in the Secretary of State race last fall or clean energy in the Senate 19 race this spring – and spotlighted a candidate with a clear and accountable position and track record on that issue. At the same time, the goal is to see the spotlighted candidate win, and KFTC puts strategic resources in place to help make that happen. In the Kentucky Senate 19 race, KFTC selected a number of tactics to lift up clean energy, promote a New Power frame and spotlight Cunningham. The PAC sent out postcards to the KFTC members in that district to promote clean energy and remind them of Cunningham and her campaign. Additionally, the organization sent two rounds of similar postcards to other selected voters in the district. An ad ran in the LEO Weekly in Jefferson County – and it was reported in several media outlets that KFTC had endorsed Cunningham. In the week leading up to the primary election, a team of Jefferson County chapter leaders phoned the
WE ARE KENTUCKIANS... and we have a vision of a better future for Kentucky - for all of us.
We are working to help Kentucky build a new energy economy — generating thousands of new jobs, creating healthier communities, and saving each of us money.
• Thousands of New Jobs • More Affordable Energy • Healthier Communities As you prepare to go to the polls on May 22, you should know that candidate for Kentucky State Senate, has a proven track record of working for new, clean energy for Kentucky and Jefferson County.
candidate for Kentucky State Senate, will fight for a better future for all of us and our children. Remember her when you go to the polls on May 22.
It’s time for
It’s time for Cards 1 and 2 of a two-card series that the New Power PAC mailed to voters in Senate District 19. Burt Series 1-2 .indd 1
900 KFTC members in District 19 to encourage them to vote and to consider Cunningham when they made their choice for Senate 19. In the end, Morgan McGarvey, the candidate with the support of most of the Democratic Party infrastructure and by far the largest campaign treasury, won with 41 percent of the vote. Cunningham received 34 percent, Amy Shoemaker captured 15 percent, and Gary Demling received 10 percent. The outcome was closer than some expected and likely demonstrated the power of on-the-ground electoral work that connects with issues voters care about. That might be the most valuable lesson as KFTC members start to plan the electoral work leading to the November general election and beyond. “I think the 19th district Senate race was a firm show of democracy,” said KFTC member Harrison Kirby. “Sarah Lynn’s campaign exceeded expectations not because she had big-name support (she didn’t), more money than her opponents (she didn’t) or more political connections (she didn’t). It did well because of the type of grassroots effort that KFTC put into the campaign: regular people came together and worked hard to put an outspoken and qualified leader in Frankfort.” Kirby and other KFTC members have already reached out to Morgan McGarvey to meet with him to forge a productive relationship leading into next year’s General Assembly.
5/10/12 4:05 PM
Burt Series 2-2.indd 1
5/10/12 4:06 PM
balancing the scales, June 14, 2012
Economic Justice Update Gearing up for the Blue Ribbon Tax Commission
This summer offers the best opportunity in the last decade to push forward on tax reforms that would allow Kentucky to invest in good jobs, clean air and water, quality education, and healthy, vibrant communities. A Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform began holding public forums on May 29 and will continue with five more forums throughout the summer as they invite everyday Kentuckians to share their best ideas about state tax reforms. The Paducah meeting had good turnout, with about 20 people speaking. Several lifted up budget needs in education and mental health services in a push for the commission to propose revenue solutions that are adequate to meet Kentucky’s needs. The commission was appointed earlier this year to study and build consensus around tax reforms that meet the guidelines of fairness, competitiveness, simplicity and compliance, elasticity and adequacy. These are consistent with KFTC’s principles of tax reform: fairness, adequacy, sustainability and supportive of the well-being of Kentuckians.
The commission will make recommendations to the 2013 General Assembly. But first it will gather ideas from Kentuckians at five additional hearings. The upcoming hearings are: Southern Kentucky/Bowling Green: Tuesday, June 19, 6-8 pm Greenwood High School Auditorium 5065 Scottsville Road, Bowling Green Louisville: Tuesday July 10, 6-8 p.m. Highland Middle School Auditorium 1700 Norris Place, Louisville Northern Kentucky: Tuesday July 24, 6-8 p.m. Student Union Ballroom 20 Kenton Drive, Highland Heights East Kentucky: Tuesday Aug 7, 6-8 p.m. Big Sandy Community & Technical College, Gearheart Auditorium 1 Bert Combs Drive, Prestonsburg Central Kentucky/Lexington: Tuesday Aug 21, 6-8 p.m. Bryan Station High School 201 Eastin Road, Lexington
Ways to support tax reform this summer • Submit your comments to the Blue Ribbon Commission online at http://ltgovernor.ky.gov/taxreform/Pages/comments.aspx. • Sign up to come to the Public Meeting nearest you: http://ltgovernor.ky.gov/taxreform/Pages/present.aspx • Join KFTC for a Blue Ribbon Tax Justice Webinar about Kentucky’s current budget landscape, the best opportunities to move forward, and the best statements to deliver at the public meetings. June 14 and a July date TBA. Find more information on KFTC’s Blue Ribbon page: just click the blue ribbon on www.kftc.org. • Get your community involved! Do you know a local nonprofit, church group, or service provider impacted by Kentucky’s budget? Get in touch with Jessica Hays Lucas (859-276-0563 or jessicabreen@KFTC.org) to work on reaching out to local groups about participating in your area’s meeting. Find more information, talking points, and tools at: www.KFTC.org/blue-ribbon
balancing the scales, June 14, 2012
New Energy and Transition Update
Energy audit conducted at KFTC’s London office
In mid-April, Laurel County KFTC members and staff watched as the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) performed an energy audit of KFTC’s London office as a first step in bringing the energy usage of the office down and possibly moving toward producing renewable energy. Members Felix Woods, Jennifer Melton, and Vicki Lauderdale and the London office staff looked on as MACED staff Josh Bills and Hope Broecker inspected the structure and its lighting, appliances, duct work, and heating and air conditioning system. They also performed a blower door test, which checks for the amount of air exchange between the outside and the inside of the building, and helps to reveal the sources of drafts and air leaks. Bills and Broecker helped to educate the group on the audit process and provided tips for reducing energy usage throughout the process. KFTC members pitched in with the heavy lifting when needed and learned
a lot about the process and the outcomes. The project came about at the direction of the Renew East Kentucky member strategy committee – one of KFTC’s standing campaign committees. KFTC intends to document the audit and upgrade process along the way, and help to educate others on how to save money by saving energy – an important part of KFTC’s New Energy and Transition work. The office in London is the only building that KFTC owns. The building (really, a house) was completely remodeled in the late 1990s. Members are imagining what a story the building can tell in the community and region if it is outfitted with solar panels and produces as much power as it uses. Lowering the office’s energy consumption is the first step in the process. Next steps include reviewing the audit report from MACED, considering financing options, developing a plan of work, and finally upgrading the office.
A new national survey shows overwhelming and bipartisan support for clean energy policies that go far beyond what is currently in place, especially in Kentucky. More than 80 percent of the 1,019 people asked agreed with the statement: “The time is now for a new, grassroots-driven politics to realize a renewable energy future.” The favorable response included 69 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Independents and 95 percent of Democrats. The survey further defined that policy as “one that protects public health, promotes energy independence and the economic well-being of all Americans.” “It is apparent that Americans overwhelmingly favor clean and renewable energy,” said Steve Sanders, director of the Appalachian Citizens Law Center, which co-released the survey findings in Kentucky with the Civil Society Institute and KFTC. “For Kentucky, that means we must plan now for a future which is much less dependent on coal
as a source of electric power.” Nearly as many respondents (75 percent) agreed that, “Congress and state public utility commissions that regulate electric utilities should put more emphasis on renewable energy and increased energy efficiency … and less emphasis on major investments in new nuclear, coal and natural gas plants.” This included 58 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Independents and 86 percent of Democrats. “These results show that people all over the country want clean energy and it’s time for Kentucky to catch up with other states to make cleaner energy affordable and accessible to people who want to invest in that,” said Amanda Fuller, a KFTC member in Louisville. “Renewable Portfolio Standards and feed-in tariffs are two initiatives that we can do right now that don’t cost our state any money,” Fuller pointed out. Those initiatives were included in the Clean Energy Opportunity Act, legislation that received a hearing but no vote in the recently adjourned session
KFTC members (left to right) Jennifer Melton, Vicki Lauderdale and Felix Woods and MACED staff Hope Broeker and Josh Bills pose with the blower door during an energy audit of KFTC’s London office.
Survey finds bipartisan majority wants clean energy of the Kentucky General Assembly. A renewable and efficiency portfolio standard (REPS) requires electric utilities to meet specific energy savings and renewable energy goals. Feed-in tariffs establish rates that utilities pay to renewable energy producers who share their electricity. Seventy-seven percent of respondents agreed that “(t)he energy industry’s extensive and well-financed public relations, campaign contributions and lobbying machine is a major barrier to moving beyond business as usual when it comes to America’s energy policy.” “We’re losing jobs,” Fuller said, noting that the contractor who installed solar electric and solar hot water systems on her house is challenged to find enough work to stay in business. “There are skilled people who have the technical backgrounds who are out of
work because we don’t have the policies that support clean energy.” An independent study released in January concluded that passage of the Clean Energy Opportunity Act would result in 28,000 new jobs in Kentucky over the next 10 years. The clean energy survey was conducted by phone on March 22-25 by ORC International for the Civil Society Institute. Respondents were 506 men and 513 women 18 years of age and older. The questions went well beyond a simple “Do you favor or oppose ____ policies” often asked in such surveys, explained Pam Solo, president of the Civil Society Institute. She said the results show how deeply Americans understand what’s at stake in our energy decisions.
Stay in the loop with KFTC.ORG/BLOG
balancing the scales, June 14, 2012
New Energy and Transition Update
Training teaches members how to renew and reform their rural electric cooperatives with grassroots actions
Most people would probably not choose to spend a nice Saturday in late April in a windowless basement with florescent lighting for a six-hour meeting. But that’s exactly what 17 KFTC members and staff who are working to renew and reform Kentucky’s rural electric co-ops chose to do. They attended a training to gain the knowledge and skills on how to move their co-ops toward cleaner and more affordable energy and greater democ-
racy. There are 24 local, consumerowned electric distribution utilities in the state that provide electricity for more than one and a half million people in 117 of Kentucky’s 120 counties, as well as the two “generation and transmission” cooperatives that produce power for those distribution co-ops, according to the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives. KFTC members have been active around one of those generation co-ops,
East Kentucky Power Cooperative, working with consumers in its 16 distribution member co-ops to push for reforms. Members from six different Kentucky co-ops came together in Winchester, a town in Clark County, to participate in the training. Everyone involved felt a few hours of unfortunate lighting was a small price to pay for learning how to create more democracy in determining our energy choices. The training consisted of lessons about working in co-ops; a history of member participation in co-ops presented by MIT doctoral student Abby Spinak; a review of a toolbox of materials for getting more informed about coops; a workshop on organizing skills;
and a planning session about forming groups and planning for reform. Every participant left the training with a stack of materials, including a CD of informative documents, such as bylaws and IRS financial reports for the co-ops, and key co-op contact information. When KFTC transitions to its new website, materials from the training will be available under the Renew East Kentucky section of the site. Additional trainings – in-person, online and/or over the phone – will also be scheduled throughout the year and publicized. For more information or to schedule a training in your area, contact KFTC organizer Sara Pennington at 606-276-9933 or email@example.com.
Save the Date
Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance Fall Meeting! WHAT: Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance face-to-face meeting to discuss our 2012-13 strategy and activities. WHERE: Lexington, location TBA WHEN: Thursday, September 20, 2012
With new ideas and knowledge, KFTC members and staff pause for a moment during a training about rural electric cooperatives.
Clean energy briefs Kentucky recognized as a leader in Green Schools Tw e l v e K e n t u c k y s c h o o l s have earned an “ENERGY STAR” designation by the federal government for cutting energy use and, in some cases, generating energy on-site through small-scale renewable energy installations such as rooftop solar panels. C o u n t i e s w i t h re c o g n i z e d schools include Warren, Nelson, Meade, Shelby, Trimble and Bullitt. These schools are among the top 5 percent in the nation for energy efficiency.
The newly designated schools bring the number of Kentucky’s ENERGY STAR school buildings to 160 – a figure that has doubled over the last two years. Did you know Kentucky is a part of the wind power industry? Kentucky houses at least nine companies in places like Mayfield, Erlanger, Bowling Green and Lexington that play a role in the manufacturing and distribution of wind turbines. Of the 90 total companies located in the southeast U.S., five wind turbine part manufacturers are located within the state.
Details will be published at www.kysea.org as the meeting date gets closer. Contact Nancy Reinhart at 502-589-3188 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The component parts are then sent out-of-state to areas that put the turbines together and use them for electricity. Kentucky utilities do not rely on any wind power for electricity at this point. Eastern Kentucky housing provider working to build affordable green homes The Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation recently built five homes in Whitley County designed to use 90 percent less energy for heating and cooling than a conventional home. The homes are highly efficient in design and have solar panels
on the roof so they will generate about as much power as they use. The 1,300 square foot homes cost $200,000 to build and were sold for $115,000 with the help of grants. The builders expect the costs to decrease as they continue to build similar units and aim to make these homes affordable to low and moderateincome families in the future. I n c e n t i v e s o ff e re d b y t h e Tennessee Valley Authority, the utility that serves Whitley County, which are similar to those included in the KFTCsupported Clean Energy Opportunity Act, made the solar panels more financially feasible than they would have been elsewhere in Kentucky.
balancing the scales, June 14, 2012
Chapter Meetings June 21 Central Kentucky chapter meeting, 7 p.m. at the Episcopal Diocese Mission House (corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and 4th Street) in Lexington. June 21 Rowan County chapter meeting, 6 p.m. at St. Albanâ€™s Episcopal Church on 5th Street in Morehead. June 23 Land Reform Committee Meeting. Contact Kevin Pentz for more information, Kevin@ kftc.org or call 606-335-0764 June 25 Madison County chapter meeting, 7 p.m. at Berea College Appalachian Center, 205 N. Main St., Berea. July 5
Scott County chapter meeting, 7 p.m., at the Georgetown Public Library. Email Dave@ kftc.org or 859-420-8919 for more information or to volunteer.
Jefferson County chapter meeting, 6:30 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church, 809 South 4th Street in Louisville.
Floyd County chapter meeting, 7 - 8:30 p.m., St. Marthaâ€™s Catholic Church in Prestonburg. For more information contact Kristi@kftc.org or call 859-986-1277.
Bowling Green chapter planning meeting, 6:30 p.m. at The Foundry, 531 West 11th St. Contact JessicaBreen@kftc.org or call 859-276-0563.
Perry County chapter meeting, 6 p.m. Contact Tanya@ kftc.org or call 606-632-0051.
Northern Kentucky chapter meeting, 7 p.m. at 25 W 7th Street in Covington. Contact Joe@kftc.org or call 859-3806103.
Letcher County chapter meeting, 6 p.m. Contact Tanya@ kftc.org or call 606-632-0051.