Budget Bake Sale raises tax reform awareness while contributing $00 to the state’s $1.5 billion budget shortfall
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth P.O. Box 1450 London, Ky. 40743
March 8, 2010
NON-PROFIT U.S. POSTAGE PAID LEXINGTON, KY. PERMIT NO. 513
Volume 29 Number 2
Change Service Requested
balancing the scales
Inside... • Declaration gives public airing of KFTC’s grievances and demands • KFTC members stage huge turnout for hearing on air pollution permit • Voting Rights campaign continues to get louder and louder • House leaders falter after initial talk of real tax reform • House Bill 408 sets vision for Kentucky’s energy future • Fill protocol replaces history of neglect with enforceable standard
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Table of Contents Member Profile Nathan Hall
Letters to the Editor, Member Submissions Intern Sean Bailey describes his journey to find KFTC KFTC, Friends of Coal have different visions for Kentucky Fill protocol replaces history of neglect with enforceable standard Community of Closplint covered in dust and mud by coal trucks
page 4 page 5 page 6 page 6
Local Updates Central Kentucky chapter works to build skills and ally relationships Letcher County chapter Crepes of Wrath Member uses permit process to save his community’s water Cookies, haikus and “muffin-top removal,” all for social justice Women express care of earth, culture in Fireside Fellowship Quilting Workshop
page 7 page 7 page 8 page 9 page 9
Legislation Legislators promoting an energy future full of carbon pollution
Economic Justice House leadership falters after initial talk of real tax reform State services already suffering from historic cuts Budget bake sales go local; sales are planned across the state United for a Fair Economy offers a Tax Fairness Pledge
page 12 page 12 page 13 page 13
Canary Project Health effects of coal are enormous, House panel told Declaration gives public airing of KFTC’s grievances and demands Federal reports detail extent of mountaintop removal impacts Scientists: evidence overwhelming for stopping valley fills now I Love Mountains day brings hundreds of Kentuckians to Frankfort Youth hold governor’s staff accountable for waffles on issues MSHA announces new program to end Black Lung Disease New information shows black lung disease continues to disable
page 14 page 15 page 20 page 20 page 21 page 22 page 23 page 23
Rural Electric Cooperative Update KFTC members stage huge turnout for hearing on air pollution permit Co-op members submit letter to USDA questioning Smith One financing
page 24 page 24
Voting Rights Voting Rights campaign continues to get louder and louder
High Road Initiative House Bill 408 sets vision for Kentucky’s energy future
KFTC News Steering committee discusses New Power Leaders program Kentuckians are “Singing for Democracy” in Jefferson County
page 27 page 28
Cover Photo: (top) KFTC members gather at a rally and lobby day in support of HB 70, restoring voting rights to former felons; (lower left) members at I Love Mountains Day; (lower right) KFTC member Mary Love expresses how KFTC members have been treated by Rep. Jim Gooch when they have requested to speak about mountaintop removal and valley fills to the House Natural Resources Committee.
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 is 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 K.A. Owens, Chairperson Steve Boyce, Vice-Chairperson Pam Maggard, Secretary-Treasurer Doug Doerrfeld, Immediate Past Chair Susan Williams, At-Large Member
Dana Beasley-Brown (Bowling Green) Jerry Moody (Central Kentucky) Rick Handshoe (Floyd) Carl Shoupe (Harlan) Becki Winchel (Jefferson) Cari Moore (Knott) Patty Amburgey (Letcher) Becca Parrish (Madison) Randy Moon (Perry) Vanessa Hall (Pike) Sue Tallichet (Rowan) Alternates: Donna Aros, Matt Heil, Bev May, Stanley Sturgill, Martha Flack, Bobby Hicks, Jeff Chapman Crane, Ray Arnold, Truman Hurt, Erica Urias, Ted Withrow
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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 email@example.com. Subscriptions are $20 per year.
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Member Profile: Nathan Hall A native of eastern Kentucky and a former underground coal miner, Nathan Hall sees a need for developing alternative energy resources in the mountains. For several years now he has been working steadily to implement innovative renewable energy and sustainable agriculture projects in the eastern Kentucky coalfields. Hall is starting out his entrepreneurial ventures in clean energy with biodiesel, a renewable fuel made from recycled cooking oil with chemical properties similar to those of diesel, only cleaner and safer. He believes that biodiesel is a critical component to any regional economic diversification plan and is a sustainable solution to the increasing energy demand in the U.S. Hall currently is at work constructing a selfcontained mobile biodiesel processor powered entirely by renewable energy. It will produce up to 80,000 gallons of ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials)-quality fuel per year. He is collaborating with various state, county, city, educational and non-profit institutions on the project, including the Floyd County Fiscal Court, city of Prestonsburg, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, and Appalshop. Hall plans to use this mobile biodiesel processor to conduct on-site presentations and demonstrations at schools and colleges throughout the region to educate students about a broad range of renewable energy possibilities for Central Appalachia. He recently received a grant for his company, East Kentucky Biodiesel, LLC, through the Kentucky New Energy Ventures Fund. In the long-term, he plans to develop both ecological remediation/bioenergy plantation projects on
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
abandoned/reclaimed surface mines and diversified bio-intensive small-scale agriculture on river bottoms and hillsides. “Growing up in eastern Kentucky, I thought that I would have to move to Lexington or Louisville if I wanted to work anywhere other than Wal-Mart or the coal mines. The fact is that there are a lot of unexplored opportunities in Appalachia, but they’re going to require innovation, patience, and a change in the way that people look at energy and the economy in this region in order to be viable,” said Hall. “I want to be a part of moving us toward a more diversified, healthy, and sustainable future that respects all the hard work our coal miners have put in over the years, but realizes that we need options that aren’t going to be here today, gone tomorrow.”
Jessica George, Jerry Hardt, Colette Henderson, Shameka Parrish-Wright and Nancy Reinhart 901 Franklin Street Louisville, Ky 40206 502-589-3188
Tim Buckingham, Jessica Hays, Erik Hungerbuhler, Heather Roe Mahoney, Dave Newton and Ondine Quinn 250 Plaza Drive, Suite #4 Lexington, Ky 40503 859-276-0563
Lisa Abbott, Amy Hogg, Carissa Lenfert, Sara Pennington Kevin Pentz, and Martin Richards 435-R Chestnut St, #2 Berea, Kentucky 40403 859-986-1277
Colleen Unroe and Patty Tarquino P.O. Box 463 Whitesburg, Ky 41858 606-632-0051
Brittany Combs Floyd County, Ky. 606-422-0100
Teri Blanton 118 Baugh Street Berea, Ky. 40403 859-986-1648
e-mail any staff member at email@example.com except for Jessica Hays use firstname.lastname@example.org
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balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Intern Sean Bailey describes his journey to find KFTC by Sean Bailey
Standing high atop the tallest mountain in Kentucky, I realized I was there not only as an advocate for perhaps the most diverse ecological landscapes beseeched upon us, but also for Appalachian culture and the people whose lives are affected daily by the selfish atrocities of mountaintop removal coal mining. The wind reached its feverish pitch high upon Black Mountain as seven of us stood looking down on what once was home to Hobblebush and Red Elderberry, Black Walnut, Tulip Polar, and Sugar Maples. With rolling clouds above and muddied boots aground, we stood in awe at the poor excuse of a reclamation effort, with nary a sprig of revegetaion. Looking at the industrial lights below we watched the movement of draglines, front loaders and coal trucks that were hauling away our earth, our mountains and the elements of Appalachian cultural identity and heritage. We were on a mountain witness tour, seeing firsthand the true magnitude that pictures and video can only try to encapsulate. After all, two dimensions can only go so far. I have long held affection for the mountains. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family that often took trips through the Appalachian Mountains, including the Blue Ridge and the Smokies; I have lived and played in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado for four years of my life within the last decade; and the Cascade Mountains have seen my soul on more than one occasion. While I appreciate every range and the people that their unique ecology helps to sustain, it is the Appalachian region with all of its history and landscape that has especially resonated with me. In addition, the humanistic aspect of life has always intrigued me and I have long been an advocate of social justice throughout the world. I first became familiar with the work of KFTC purely by chance. Last April I stumbled upon an event taking place right around the corner from where I live – Louisville Loves Mountains Day. It was the sound of string band music and conversation that lured me in, but it was the synergistic energy of the community coming together for a much deeper cause that motivated me to stay.
There were prayer flags lining the street, an air of empowerment, music and guest speakers, and booths disseminating literature and tools to help educate and enable interested attendees. I was given my first “I Love Mountains” button, signed several petitions, and loaded up on every resource available. It was there that I decided that this is something I wanted to be involved in as actively as possible. I saw this jumping off point as not only a chance for me to make a difference from an environmental standpoint, but from the deeper human element that mountaintop removal necessitates. In my final semester at the University of Louisville, I was given a once in a lifetime chance at making a difference socially and environmentally, as well as an opportunity to help protect a culture that is near and dear to my heart. Through a cooperative agreement between the Anthropology Department at U of L and organizer Colette Henderson of the Jefferson County KFTC chapter, I was granted a position as an intern alongside the activists that I have admired and read about for nearly the past year. Over the past couple of months I have worked within the grassroots organization on levels of responsibility, equality and involvement that positioned me squarely in the throes of social justice and environmental advocacy. Specifically I was given the task of planning “Appalachian Love,” the kick off event to the annual I Love Mountains Day rally in Frankfort. The night was filled with artists specifically chosen for their outspoken involvement in drawing attention to the annihilation taking place in eastern Kentucky. Among the musicians were Kate Larken, Relic Bluegrass, Thomas A. Minor and the Picket Line, The Obscure Handsome Brothers (featuring Joe Manning, Nathan Salsburg, and Glen Dentinger), and Catherine Irwin of the nationally acclaimed Americana duo Freakwater. Held at The Green Building, the evening was meticulously emceed by long-time member Seamus Allman and the event was embellished with heartfelt testimonials by member speaker Myron Hardesty and high-school student Molly Kaviar. The musicians played to a capacity
Sean Bailey participated in a recent Mountain Witness Tour to eastern Kentucky mountaintop removal mine sites. Upon his return Sean inquired how to work more closely with KFTC as an intern. crowd that generously donated nearly $2,000 for KFTC. More than 175 people attended the event which was not only aimed at raising awareness about the severity of mountaintop removal, but also the upcoming event in Frankfort the following week. After everything was said and done, 145 people either became members or renewed their memberships, several dozen of whom committed to attend I Love Mountains Day. My educational background is in anthropology, specifically as it pertains
to different cultures. Traditionally, anthropologists aren’t involved with documenting the world that they want to live in, so much as documenting the world as it is. By acknowledging the influence of social justice on culture I am able to synthesize crucial elements of anthropology and activism in pursuit of a more holistic approach to my field. I earnestly appreciate the opportunity to serve as intern, and as a member of KFTC I am overjoyed to be part of such a wonderful and vital organization.
Interested In Are you interested in Environmental Justice, Tax Justice, New Power Initiatives and other issues relevant to KFTC? Are you interested in learning firsthand skills in community organizing? Are you ready to work for a new vision for Kentucky that will create New Power in the political landscape and our energy needs? Then contact the chapter organizer closest to you to apply for a non-paid internship with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth.
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Letters to the Editor
KFTC, Friends of Coal have different visions for Kentucky
Dear editor, The “Friends of Coal” organization has been misrepresenting KFTC, trying to portray us as an enemy of coal miners and their families. As a member of KFTC for over 27 years I am quite familiar with the history of this organization, and would like to present some truths that the Friends of Coal may not wish to acknowledge. Let’s begin with coal miners having a safe and healthy work place. During the 2007 Kentucky legislative session, House Bill 207 was introduced to strengthen health and safety regulations in underground mines. Included in this bill were provisions to increase the number of medics on each shift, adequate emergency transportation, constant use of ventilation fans, and increased methane detectors. This was after a rash of accidents had left more than a dozen miners killed in Kentucky and West Virginia. Hailed by many as an important effort to protect the lives of Kentucky’s miners, the bill was supported by the widows of the miners killed in accidents and endorsed by KFTC. Led by Representatives Robin Webb and Jim Gooch the coal industry did everything it could to cripple that legislation, removing the most critical components of the bill. This effort was supported by many Eastern Kentucky legislators but was opposed by KFTC. Joining forces with the miners’ widows, the United Mine Workers of America, and others, KFTC fought hard to pass the legislation in its original form. We sent members to Frankfort to lobby, we had members, many of whom are former miners, testify before the House committee, we wrote letters and made phone calls to legislators, we wrote letters to the editors of Kentucky’s newspapers, we faxed and emailed representatives to oppose the coal industry’s watered down version of the bill and to support the original provisions. In short, KFTC worked tirelessly on behalf of miners and their families, while the coal industry (the “friends of coal”) did all they could to oppose improved health and safety measures for their workers.
Despite the coal industry’s opposition a strong mine safety bill passed and became law. This is all a matter of public record. Friends of Coal is fond of accusing KFTC of being an outsider organization. The truth is that, while a few of our members are from other states, KFTC started in the coalfields and our membership is mostly made up of people from right here in Kentucky. But let’s take a look at outside organizations for a minute. Following is a list of some of the largest coal producers in Kentucky and the location of their corporate headquarters: Arch Mineral, St. Louis, Missouri; TECO Coal, Tampa, Florida; International Coal Group (ICG), Scott Depot, West Virginia; Alpha Natural Resources, Abingdon, Virginia and Latrobe, Maryland; Peabody Energy, St. Louis, Missouri; Massey Energy, Richmond, Virginia; and Consol Energy, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. The profits these corporations reaped in 2009 is in the billions of dollars. According to financial statements found on their websites, these included over $3 billion for Peabody Energy over the 2nd and 3rd quarters, $1.85 billion for Arch Mineral in a 9 month period, $729 million in the 3rd quarter for Alpha Natural Resources, and $87 million in the 3rd quarter for Consol Energy. Meanwhile the coal-producing counties of Kentucky are the poorest in the state. This trend is not new; it has been the same story for over 100 years. That is the true tradition of coal in eastern Kentucky. KFTC is seen by many people as a threat to jobs in the coal industry. I recently heard a life-long resident of Pike County talking about his father, who was an underground miner. The mine where he used to work employed 600 men at that time, but now, because of a shift to strip-mining, only needs 17 workers. In the last 30 years the number of coal mining jobs has decreased by two-thirds, while the level of production has remained relatively steady. The real threat to miners’ jobs is not KFTC but the increasing use of massive earth-moving machines that displace hundreds of deep miners.
One of the Friends of Coal slogans is “Coal Mining Our Future”. Ironically, this is exactly what we’re doing if our future depends on such a finite resource. There is only so much coal, and it will be depleted. Then what? The coal industry will skip town with the last of its profits, leaving behind devastated mountains, contaminated streams, and no jobs. KFTC is working for a better future beyond coal, so that this scenario never becomes a reality. We care about the future of Kentucky, and we are not willing to leave it in the hands of corporations whose only interest is in how much wealth they can take before they
abandon us. The Friends of Coal organization has a very narrow vision for Eastern Kentucky – in the most profitable way possible, mine the coal until it’s gone. KFTC has a much broader vision – protect the lives and health of coal miners while making a long-term transition to a more diversified economy, one that provides good paying jobs and protects the environment. In these very difficult times it’s critical to know who your friends really are. Jeff Chapman-Crane Eolia, Kentucky
DEEP DOWN a story from the heart of coal country Upcoming Screenings of Deep Down *Friday March 19 at Clifton Community Center in Louisville film 7 p.m. with panel discussion to follow. *Friday March 26 at the Maytown Center in Floyd County, 7 p.m. *Saturday March 27 at the University of Kentucky Student Center, 7 p.m. Sponsored by The Cumberland Chapter of the Sierra Club. *Friday April 13 at Eastern Kentucky University Crabbe Library Auditorium, 7 p.m. FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO ORDER THE FILM, PLEASE VISIT: www.deepdownfilm.org Contact the directors at email@example.com Please join our Facebook group: “Deep Down”
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Letters to the Editor
Fill protocol replaces history of neglect with enforceable standard by Tom FitzGerald Kentucky Resources Council
The Kentucky Resources Council appreciates the recognition in the last “Balancing The Scales” that the “fill placement” protocol represents a significant step forward. I’m writing to answer the questions raised in the article and to clarify some misunderstanding. The interaction of the state mining agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding dumping of mine spoil into valleys could be best described historically as a “circle of neglect.” The Corps issued a blanket nationwide authorization for such activities provided that a permit was obtained under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, under the assumption that the Clean Water Act goals of “avoidance” of stream impacts and “minimization” of what couldn’t be avoided, was occurring during the mine permit review. Unfortunately, the mining agency review focused only on fill stability, and because of non-enforcement of the elevation requirement of returning mined lands to the “approximate original (i.e. pre-mining) contour (AOC), significant volumes of mine spoil ended up in valley fills that should have been retained on the bench. As both the Corps of Engineers and
EPA scrutinize more closely the requests by the industry for authorization to dump spoil material from strip mines into headwater stream reaches under the Clean Water Act Section 404 program, the agencies lacked a replicable, defensible, science-based process for determining when a mine permit applicant has truly “avoided” in-stream impacts to the extent possible, by maximizing return of spoil material to the mine bench, and exhausting other available upland disposal locations. Similarly, the question of when unavoidable impacts had been “minimized” lacked a defensible protocol that would provide the agencies and the public any real assurance that the mine was planned to minimize in-stream impacts. The “Fill Placement Optimization Process” provides, for the first time, an objective, well-defined and enforceable method for achieving the return of a mined area to the pre-mining approximate original contour (in both aspect and elevation) while ensuring stability of backfill material returned to the mined area and minimization of land and in-stream impacts. While the Kentucky Department of Natural Resources issued the fill protocol as an advisory rather than a mandate, the protocol is now required to be followed for all pending and new requests for authorization made to the
Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and EPA Region IV. The protocol first requires that all spoil needed to restore the pre-mining elevation be retained on bench (which will greatly reduce the dumping of material from mine benches and will assure more contemporaneous reclamation of disturbed areas) and mandates that all available existing unreclaimed benches within 1/2 mile of the mine permit be evaluated for upland placement of excess spoil prior to consideration of a valley or head of hollow fill. This latter requirement goes beyond what the mining law requires, and because most surface mining now being conducted is second- or third-cut mining, should result in reclamation of abandoned mine benches and highwalls that otherwise would likely remain unreclaimed. The protocol optimizes the placement of spoil in order to reduce watershed impacts, and provides a structured process for use in permit review and in field inspection (and public compliance efforts). KRC would welcome the opportunity to do training sessions with KFTC and other organizations on the implementation of the protocol, and we will be monitoring authorizations issued by the Corps of Engineers to assure industry compliance with the protocol requirements. The protocol builds on the AOC+
policy in effect in West Virginia, in several ways. First, the new policy applies to contour mines as well as area or “mountaintop removal” mines. Second, the new policy increases the deck height of fills for contour operations, with a maximum of 50 percent of the wall height. Historically, Kentucky has had fill decks at the elevation of the lowest seam being mined. Third, in addition to defining the stream impact length, the policy also identifies the stream impacts and requires that the final mine design does not affect more. Finally, an applicant cannot start the next fill, if more than 50 percent of fills have been initiated, without certifying that they are still in compliance with the mine plan. This should significantly reduce and penalize over-permitting of fills, and consequently preserve stream impact minimization throughout the life of the mine. As has been the case since 1984, KRC remains committed, on behalf of the thousands of coalfield citizens and citizen-based organizations that we have represented over the past 25 years, to reducing the heavy footprint of mining on land and water resources and on communities, as we transition to cleaner energy sources. I look forward to continuing to work towards institutionalizing the goals of this protocol into state law through the “streamsaver” bill that KRC authored at KFTC’s request a decade ago.
Community of Closplint covered in dust and mud by coal trucks
Dear Editor, Conditions in Closplint to Highsplint Kentucky continue to be nasty. Trucks go down our road anywhere from 100 to 200 trips by our home a day. We have contacted the state and federal agencies and nothing has gotten any better. When the mud dries up in a day or so, we will be forced to breath and clean up the dust. I have just started keeping a dairy of daily activity for future reference; to include my thoughts and conditions with a picture and a list of the agencies I might have called that day. Rex Coal bought the vacuum truck and they don’t run it enough to make a difference. I know it by its self will not be enough. On September 11, 2009 we
asked the coal company to install a scrubber system and to pave the haul roads. Six months later they have poured about 200 feet of concrete. I dread the spring and summer as there will no doubt be plenty of dust and contaminants to breath. It just plain and simple is not fair that the state and federal agencies’ laws are so relaxed that it makes Kentuckians in mining communities be forced to live in such awful conditions. It costs us money and work to clean up after such inconsiderate people like the coal operators. We always tried to have pride in our home and get out in the community but that is gone now. Chuck Taylor Closplint, Kentucky
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Central Kentucky chapter works to build skills and ally relationships by Jordan Panning The KFTC Central Kentucky chapter is exercising its political will this winter. Four carloads of members attended the Kentucky Division of Air Quality permit hearing for the Stop Smith Campaign, held in Winchester on February 4. Several chapter members, including Susan Williams, Jerry Moody and Sierra Emrich, testified on how East Kentucky Power Cooperative’s air permit should be denied. It was an incredibly powerful evening as chapter members showed solidarity with members who live near the proposed site and for members who deal with the extraction of coal in eastern Kentucky. As a follow up to the hearing, chapter members are scheduling meetings with their local city council representatives to educate them about the proposed Smith One Plant and why it would be bad for Lexington. Chapter members managed to have at least 150 people from central Kentucky brave the bitter cold for the annual I Love Mountains Day march and rally in Frankfort on February 11. Central Kentucky’s senator Kathy Stein spoke eloquently to the shivering, yet determined crowd. While these statewide successes are
exciting to be a part of, in Lexington members have decided to make an effort to also get back to what makes us strong: an aware, concerned citizenry. How are we doing this? By planning a candidate forum in April for the City Council, a.k.a. Lexington-Fayette Urban City Government (LFUCG). Members are hoping to work with ally groups such as the Martin Luther King Neighborhood Association and the Clergy and Laity Network to focus the forum around 1st District and at-large candidates (the chapter meeting location, the Episcopal Mission House, is located in the 1st District). Members feel that public transportation and employment issues are especially important and should be discussed by the people who will represent us. These issues are probably not the ones that every KFTC chapter is working on, which is what makes us a strong organization: we work on what the members want to work on. Matt Heil, KFTC member and steering committee alternate from Lexington, explained, “I think that by its very nature KFTC is always working on local issues, since it’s the grassroots folks who make up the organization who make their issues our issues.”
Letcher County chapter Crepes of Wrath by Sharman Chapman-Crane
While our state legislators are again meeting in Frankfort I want to tell about an annual event that we host at our home in Eolia. This year was our 4th Annual “Crepes of Wrath” brunch, which was held on February 6. As hosts, my husband and I supplied the crepes and our invited friends brought strawberries, as we wrote letters to state representatives, senators, committee members and editors of newspapers about issues we care about. Why hold a party like this? We realized that a lot of us aren’t able to make it to Frankfort to talk to our legislators. Yet our voices must be heard as important decisions are made. Letter writing on our own can seem a chore, whereas by joining with friends we found having the encouragement and the time set aside really increased our productivity.
This year as the legislative session continues, choose a date to host your own party, and join us in spirit as we celebrate The Crepes of Wrath — maybe it’ll be the beginning of a crepe movement — and don’t forget to “bring your own berries.”
The Wrath: Jeff Chapman-Crane and Charlie Hall. For the crepe, you have to attend next year!
In this way, we have a local presence, a statewide presence, and a national presence in Washington, D.C. Some of the more outspoken KFTC members are saddling up their trumpets and are preparing to sound them in Washington, hoping to get a better representation there than has been afforded them in eastern Kentucky coalfields, especially focusing on mountaintop removal work, like the Clean Water Protection Act. Lastly, central Kentucky members have realized that in order to succeed in statewide and local campaigns there are many tools that are needed. The Central Kentucky chapter is introducing a skills building/skill share exercise during the monthly chapter meetings. Last meeting, we learned what a web blog is, how they can be used, how to write a good blog post, and that KFTC has a very active blog. The next skills share will focus on all roles for civil disobedience. As a way of building solidarity and a concrete network among allied organizations, we have begun inviting allies to our chapter meetings to update us on what they have been up to and how we can help them in their work. Recently, Joey Rose from Lexington Fairness (www.lexfair.org) spoke with
If your Central Kentucky organization or local group would like to share what you’re working on, please contact KFTC Organizer Ondine Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 859-276-0563 us, as did Jim Embry from the Bluegrass Food Security Network. Allies are given 10-15 minutes to explain their organization and what they are currently working on. This has done wonders to get information out about the many issues that this community is dealing with, and how we can support one another. More importantly, it lets members know that there are other people out there doing terrific work! The chapter has a lot on its plate, but members are very excited. As always, to be involved come to a chapter meeting on the third Thursday of every month from 7-9 p.m. at the Episcopal Mission house on the corner of 4th Street and Martin Luther King Blvd. Check out the new book by award-winning journalist and cultural historian Jeff Biggers, Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland (Nation/Basic Books). “Jeff Biggers exposes the truth about coal in America—how the myth of “clean coal” destroys even family histories. But Biggers is a long-time warrior in another fight—to stabilize climate and preserve a good life for young people. Let us hope his message about dirty coal is read far and wide.” —James Hansen, NASA Goddard Center, author of Storms of My Grandchildren Watch the book trailer: www.jeffbiggers.com
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Member uses permit process to save his community’s water by James Stapleton
My name is James Stapleton and I’m a resident of Pike County. I have lived in the Appalachian coalfields for most of my life on the banks of Elkhorn Creek. As I grew up, Elkhorn Creek was my biggest source of entertainment and recreation. The days were filled with endless resources that the creek provided. Fishing, swimming, and catching crayfish were some of the usual activities. I never thought these childhood experiences would shape my life so profoundly, since I now earn a living as an aquatic biologist. I still live on the banks of Elkhorn Creek but the stream is no longer suitable for recreational contact. The state of Kentucky has placed this stream on a list of severely polluted streams referred to as a 303(d) list. Although this is not good news this listing could provide an additional tool to organize communities and enforce the Clean Water Act. Elkhorn Creek was placed on the EPA’s 303(d) list for impaired streams in 2006. As I researched this topic further with the help of KFTC, a small group of local citizens and family members were organized and preparations were made to exercise the protection provided by section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act. Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act may prove to be a valuable tool to limit or restrict surface mining. The EPA requires individual states to place streams on the 303(d) list when they exceed their carrying capacity for pollutants. When a stream is placed on a 303(d) list there are certain implications that must be addressed by industries during the permitting process. Some of these conditions are: • Development of a TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) • Setting TMDL requirements • Limiting new development that adds to the pollutant load The Total Maximum Daily Load is defined as the maximum amount of pollution that a stream can receive and meet water quality standards. When a body of
water is placed on this list it has already surpassed its threshold to carry the listed pollutants. Armed with this information I recently challenged a pending surface mining permit in the Elkhorn Creek watershed of Pike County. The pollutants listed for Elkhorn Creek are: Sedimentation/Siltation, Total Dissolved Solids, and Pathogens. The Kentucky Division of Water stated that surface mining is a suspected source of the Sediment/Siltation and Total Dissolved Solids listings. Thus, Elkhorn Creek has surpassed its carrying capacity for these pollutants. As a resident of Elkhorn Creek and a member of KFTC I responded to a notice of “Intention to Mine” listed in the classifieds of my local newspaper. Next, I visited the Department of Natural Resources and reviewed the pending mine permit. Cambrian Coal Company’s mine Application #898-0806 did not acknowledge or address these pollutants. As a result the permit lacked discussion or narrative that describes how the company plans to fulfill proper protocol for discharging into a 303(d) listed stream to ensure that any discharge does not further degrade the already impaired stream. After realizing Cambrian Coal’s pending permit was incomplete I contacted KFTC for its members’ expert advice and support. After reviewing the facts, KFTC guided me through the proper channels. This is a process that any concerned citizen can request. All you have to do is to write a letter to the Department of Natural Resources requesting a mine permit conference. You should mention in the letter your specific concerns and describe how you would be directly affected. Under the 1977 federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) the state regulatory agency has to notify the public when a coal company has applied to mine in a community. When a coal company submits a mining permit application with the state regulatory agency, the state is required to notify the public by having the notice of intent to mine published in the local newspaper. The notice has to be published 3
KFTC member James Stapleton (right) testified at a permit conference to discuss the permit for Elkhorn Creek. times. Residents and concerned citizens have 30 days from the third time the notice of intent to mine is published to object to the application and request a permit conference hearing. The request for the permit conference hearing for my community was granted for November 9, 2009. Concerned citizens, KFTC representatives, Sierra Club representatives, industry representatives and I attended the permit conference. Once again, the basis for the permit conference was the simple fact that section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act would be violated if this surface mine were permitted. Cambrian Coal Company’s permit application #898-0806 discussion of probable hydrologic consequences in no way explained how the planned mining is designed to prevent material damage to the hydrologic balance outside the permit area. At a minimum the mining would cause an additional violation of Kentucky’s water quality standards, further polluting Elkhorn Creek. The principal argument is simple. Even though Elkhorn Creek is not the receiving stream this surface mine should not be permitted because Elkhorn Creek will receive its discharge within one mile
of the permitted area. Therefore it would be impossible to legally permit this mining operation since Elkhorn Creek already exceeds its carrying capacity for the listed pollutants. I would like to emphasize the importance of section 303(d) of the Clean water Act to the quality of life in Appalachia. Historically the state of Kentucky has protected the coal industry with regulatory favoritism and the citizens have suffered the consequences. In this case, the state is mandated by the EPA to enforce the federal law, which might otherwise be ignored. Hence, this could be a chance to bypass the inefficient and biased regulatory methods of the state of Kentucky. As a result we improve the health of our streams and therefore improve the health and quality of life of the citizens of Kentucky. Currently the Department of Natural Resources has not issued a permit to mine in this case. If you would like information on additional 303(d) listings in your area visit Kentucky’s Division of Water website at www.water.ky.gov/sw/tmdl/ 303d.html. For an overview of SMCRA please visit www.KFTC.org/smcra to learn more.
Visit www.KFTC.org/SMCRA to learn more about existing laws!
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Cookies, haikus and “muffin-top removal,” all for social justice
Myles and Hollis Maxson demonstrate “muffin-top removal.”
Bakesale for the budget: To correspond with KFTC’s statewide Budget Bake Sale in Frankfort, the
Madison County Chapter of KFTC held a Berea Budget Bake Sale towards the end of January on Berea College’s campus. In just two hours of selling baked goods almost $20 was raised and more than 55 action cards were signed and readied to be sent to the governor. The Berea College faculty, staff and students were given recipe cards that described House Bill 13, and some were shocked to find that the state was more than one billion dollars in debt. By signing individual cards that acted as a personal letter to the governor, Berea students were able to get their voices heard while they got their stomachs filled. The money, as well as the action cards, will be personally delivered to the governor’s office while KFTC continues its lobbying efforts in Frankfort.
Berea Loves Mountains The Madison County chapter’s first annual “Berea Loves Mountains” was a huge hit on February 12 in Berea.
More than 75 people turned out to the Blackfeather Cafe to listen to some great music by the local band Mudpi, tear the tops of muffins, and compete in a haiku contest for the mountains. The Blackfeather Cafe kindly made and donated tasty muffins that sold for $3 each. Each muffin had buried in the bottom of it chocolate chips or dried fruit that could be “mined” out of the muffin by tearing (if no dynamite is available) the top of the muffin off. Berea KFTC members Myles and Hollis Maxson demonstrated to the full group the exact way to go about “muffin-top” removal and then promptly ate their work. Myles and Hollis, ages 9 and 7, also gave the audience a report-back from their meeting with the governor’s staff in the afternoon of the statewide I Love Mountains Day the day before. They shared with the group how they used a giant piece of foam board and set of “yes”, “no” or “waffle” questions to hold the governor’s staff ac-
countable. They also told the group that one of the victories from the meeting is winning a meeting with Governor Beshear himself within the next month. The haiku contest for the mountains was also a huge hit. With more than 30 entries, folks shared their love of the mountains via a haiku poem. A pair of celebrity judges – Greg Capillo and Nick Asher, Bowling Green KFTC members – had fun judging the competition. The top haikus were selected by the celebrity judges and voted on by the audience using applause. One of the winning haikus was... Hidden injustice Black gold tarnishes the soul Which side are you on?
The whole event raised more than $250 to support KFTC’s work to end mountaintop removal coal mining. Thanks go to Mudpi and the Blackfeather – and to everyone who came out to support the mountains!
Women express care of earth, culture in Fireside Fellowship Quilting Workshop
Eastern Kentucky members of KFTC, supported by a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, hosted a Fireside Fellowship Quilting Workshop at the historic Seco Methodist Church House in Seco of Letcher County. This event was the second in a series of wisdom retreats designed to pass on the practices of creating visual, culinary and fabric works of art in the context of activism. At the end of the series of wisdom retreats participants will have an opportunity to exhibit their artworks, showcase and share their poems, visual, food and textile art publicly at a community event. Sheila Bartley and Peggy AdamsBowling led the workshop and helped participants learn to cut out fabric, sew and quilt in a “traditional” quilting frame. The Kentucky Foundation for Women awarded Pike County KFTC member Vanessa Hall the 2009 Art
Meets Activism (AMA) grant to build a network of support for women in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky and encourage women to express themselves using a variety of art forms including music, writing, spoken word and digital storytelling, and to share their knowledge of mountain culture, foster leadership and organize to end the practice of mountaintop removal mining. The AMA program supports feminist artists and organizations in actively engaging individuals and communities in the development, creation or implementation of art activities that are directly focused on progressive social change in Kentucky. “I’m thrilled to receive the Arts and Activism Grant from The Kentucky Foundation for Women,” said Hall. “During 2010, the Pike County KFTC organizer and I will be organizing activities that will bring women of the coalfields together to fight mountaintop removal mining.”
Quilt created by the women at the weekend workshop.
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
2010 KFTC’s Legislative Issues at a glance Here’s a quick look at the bills KFTC has a position on so far in the 2010 General Assembly. The KFTC Executive Committee (which serves as the legislative strategy team) reviews bills and amendments weekly. For a current update, visit www.kftc.org/billtracker. Issue
Saving Streams (and mountains) Senate Bill 139 House Bills 396 & 416
There are three identical Stream Saver bills, one in the Senate and two in the House. They are assigned to the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Commit tee and the House Natural Resources & Environment Committee, respectively. None are expected to get a hearing or vote this session.
All members of the General Assembly and the governor are ignoring their respon sibility to protect the people and land of Kentucky. Let them know this.
HB 70 calls for a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights to former felons upon the completion of their sentence.
HB 70 passed the House 83-16 on Feb ruary 10. It has bipartisan support in the Senate but Sen. Damon Thayer refuses to allow a hearing or vote in the State & Local Government Committee.
Contact Sen. Thayer to let him know you support democracy and HB 70, and so should he.
Tax Fairness House Bill 13 KFTC position: Support
HB 13 contains four different tax reforms to make our tax system more fair and to raise more revenue in order to make progress in key areas like education, higher education, health care, housing and the justice system.
HB 13 is in the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee.
Contact A&R Com mittee members in suport of HB 13.
Energy and economic development House Bill 408
This bill will establish a Renewable and Efficiency Portfolio Stan dard requiring utilities in Kentucky to get an increasing share of their energy from clean, renewable sources and energy efficiency programs. At least 40% of energy efficiency efforts would be directed at low-income households.
House leaders sent HB 408 to the House Natural Resources & Environ ment Committee instead of the Tourism Development & Energy Committee, where one would expect it to go. That means the clean energy bill likely will not be heard in this coal-dominated committee.
Call the Legisla tive Message Line (800-372-7181) and leave a message for all members of the House Natural Re sources & Environ ment Committee in support of HB 408.
All geologic strata deeper than 5,500 feet, “are hereby declared HB 491 is expected to be considered by to be the property of the Commonwealth” in HB 491. In addition, it the House Natural Resources & Envi allows the state to condemn private property on behalf of corpo ronment Committee on March 11. rations that want to store toxic carbon wastes underground. And it exempts those corporations from long-term liability for these storage areas.
Contact all House members and tell them that HB 491 is a horrible idea.
KFTC position: Support
Voting Rights House Bill 70 KFTC position: Support
KFTC position: Support
This legislation would prohibit the dumping of mine wastes into “an intermittent, perennial, or ephemeral stream or other water of the Commonwealth.”
These are mostly headwater streams that are essential to the quality of waterways upstream and downstream. Mine wastes could be placed back on the mine site as part of the reclamation process already specified in state and federal law - rather than dumped over the side of the hill into the valleys and streams.
It also will establish production-based incentives for renewable energy, such as a feed-in tariff, designed to increase private investment and generate new jobs through in-state renewable energy production. Carbon Sequestration House Bill 491 KFTC position: Strongly Oppose
Property Rights House Bill 213 KFTC position: Strongly Oppose
HB 213 will give private companies the power of eminent domain in order to construct pipelines to carry carbon dioxide to disposal areas.
HB 213 is currently in the House Natural Ask House members Resources and Environment Commit to oppose HB 213. tee.
Carbon Regulation House Joint Resolution 20 KFTC position: Strongly Oppose
HJR 20 will prevent state and local agencies from regulating car bon dioxide emissions within their jurisdictions.
HJR 20 is awaiting a vote in the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee.
Ask House members to oppose HJR 20.
This information is current through Monday, March 8. Check the KFTC web site at www.kftc.org/billtracker for updates on these bills, or the Legislative Research Commission web site at http://lrc.ky.gov/record/10RS/record.htm for updates on all bills. Let lawmakers know your opinions through the Legislative Message Line: 800-372-7181.
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Legislators promoting an energy future full of carbon pollution
In bits and pieces, legislators are devising the largest hazardous waste disposal system in Kentucky history. It’s all for the benefit of the coal industry and coal-burning utilities that must dispose of their toxic carbon waste – but will be paid for in part by taxpayers and landowners, who also will be permanently liable for these waste areas. The only place the companies believe they can dispose of the 100 million tons of carbon dioxide they produce every year is underground, and it will take much of the state for there to be enough land to do this. Hence, House Bill 491, which greatly
expands the power of state government to seize property anywhere in the state for the benefit of private companies needing a place to store their carbon pollution. To go along with this, House Bill 213 gives companies the power to condemn private land to build pipelines for moving their carbon from place to place. Add to these bills other legislation (including some bills passed in previous sessions) to let taxpayers help pay for carbon sequestration experiments, and you get a good idea of the energy future envisioned by the coal industry and promoted by Kentucky’s elected officials.
Nuclear Power Senate Bill 26 KFTC position: Oppose
SB 26 will lift an existing moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants by eliminating the requirement to have a means to permanently dispose of nuclear waste.
SB 26 has passed out of the Senate by a Ask House members vote of 27-10. It’s now before the House to oppose SB 26. Appropriations & Revenue Committee.
Economic Development House Bill 335 & 336
HB 335 would require more legislative oversight of economic development programs. HB 336 would require systematic review of tax breaks, and automatic sunsetting unless reauthorized.
HB 335 & 336 are assigned to the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee. They have been posted but not yet heard in committee.
HJR 122 would direct the Legislative Research Commission to examine the effectiveness of existing economic development programs.
HJR 122 was passed out of the House unanimously and has been assigned to the Senate Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor Committee.
HB 381 would eliminate fees and put a cap on interest rates that pay day lenders can charge for their services.
HB 381 has been assigned to the House Contact Rep. Greer Banking and Insurance Committee. and ask that he allow Committee chair Rep. Jeff Greer will not a vote on HB 381. allow a vote on the bill.
Expungement House Bill 127 KFTC position: Endorse
HB 127 would expunge criminal records for persons found not guilty or for whom charges have been dismissed, or when convic tions are reversed on appeal or retrial.
HB 127 is before the House Judiciary Committee. It appears that Rep. John Tilley will not allow a hearing on the bill.
Contact Rep. Tilley and express your support for HB 127.
Carbon Regulation House Resolution 132
HR 132 is a resolution to encourage Congress to pass legislation to stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.
HR 132 has passed out of the House of Representatives 76-16. As a simple resolution, HR 132 expresses the view of the House and does not need any Senate action.
Go to www.kftc.org/ billtracker and see how your representa tive voted on HR 132.
HCR 84 would establish the Kentucky Natural Resources Caucus to promote the coal, oil, and natural gas industries.
HCR 84 has passed out of the House unanimously. It now moves to the Senate State and Local Government Committee.
SB 105 creates a Livestock Care Standards Commission and, among other things, will prevent local livestock control standards when state standards are inadequate. There is no requirement that family farms be represented on the commission.
SB 105 passed the Senate and is before the House Agriculture & Small Business Committee. See www.communityfarmal liance.org/sb105.html for changes needed.
HB 312 would open all state-owned park and recreation areas where foot travel is allowed to horseback riding; make this the norm rather than the exception.
HB 312 was posted in the House Tour ism Development & Energy Committee in early February but has not moved.
KFTC position: Support Economic Development House Joint Resolution 122 KFTC position: Monitor Pay Day Loans House Bill 381 KFTC position: Support
KFTC position: Strongly Oppose Promoting fossil fuels House Concurrent Resolution 84 KFTC position: Oppose Livestock Operations Senate Bill 105 KFTC position: Oppose (as currently written) Horses on Public Lands House Bill 312 KFTC position: Oppose
Contact committee members and ex press support for HB 335 and HB 336.
Contact commit tee members and ask them to accept amendments offered by the Community Farm Alliance.
This information is current through Monday, March 8. Check the KFTC web site at www.kftc.org/billtracker for updates on these bills, or the Legislative Research Commission web site at http://lrc.ky.gov/record/10RS/record.htm for updates on all bills. Let lawmakers know your opinions through the Legislative Message Line: 800-372-7181.
Economic Justice Update
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
House leadership falters after initial talk of real tax reform The status of Kentucky’s budget is likely to stay in flux at least until the end of the 2010 legislative session, but the trend at this time is not good. In December and January, Speaker of the House Rep. Greg Stumbo made repeated proclamations of support for fair and adequate tax reforms. On January 14, in a conversation with reporters about the possibility of tax reform this session, Speaker Stumbo said, “I don’t have an appetite to turn my back on the needs of our state …. I’ll do whatever it takes.” To date, however, the proposal coming from House leadership does not include tax reforms. Instead, House leadership has suggested a series of cuts to the programs and services needed to keep citizens healthy, safe and educated. The cuts proposed by House leadership include: • $68 million by cutting the school year by two days. By extension, this would also lower teachers’ yearly pay by around $500. Schools can choose to teach students the whole year, but they have to find a way to pay for it themselves. • $20 million in a 1.5 percent cut to higher education. Students have already
begun to mobilize in Frankfort, and university presidents have said that the cuts will likely mean layoffs.
• $150 million from cuts to state employees’ health insurance plans. According to representatives from American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), this likely means higher deductibles and higher co-pays for the state workers who already pay about $600 a month for family coverage. • $88 million from contracted services. One example of a contracted service is the poison control hotline. At a recent hearing, Rep. David Watkins, a doctor who has not been supportive of HB 13 or any other revenue plan, praised Poison Control for saving the lives of thousands of Kentuckians. With all these cuts, the House leadership budget proposal was still coming up $400 million short. They proposed more one-time measures – in this case temporary suspension of a business tax break – to make the numbers balance. A bi-partisan team of legislators led by Rep. Jim Wayne of Louisville has been negotiating on a set of proposals to
raise some new revenue. KFTC has been working with the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) to offer analyses about the various ideas – both to gauge their impact on the strength of Kentucky’s tax structure, and to gauge their impact on Kentucky families – in an effort to help craft the best possible plans. The team is currently working on a set of revenue ideas that include rolling back some Northern Kentucky members hosted their secexemptions for businesses and ond meeting as a group and discussed KFTC’s individuals – some good things, legislative priorities for the 2010 General Asbut not what Kentucky needs. sembly with specific time focusing on HB 13, KFTC members are keeping progressive tax reform. the pressure on elected officials to pass the fair and adequate reforms in House Bill 13. To take action by organizIt can be done: Oregon ing a Budget Bake Sale to raise awarevoters pass progressive tax ness in your community, writing a letter reform to stave off cutbacks to the editor in support of HB 13, or lobbying in Frankfort, get in touch with Oregon, a state that traditionally Jessica Lucas at email@example.com or has not been enthusiastic about col859-533-0613. lecting public tax dollars and hasn’t To learn more about House Bill 13, pick up your Legislative Guide, or go to www.kftc. org and click on General Assembly, then Tax Justice.
State services already suffering from historic cuts
The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a state workers’ union, endorsed House Bill 13 as a way to raise revenue fairly. The stories below are from social service workers who are represented by AFSCME, and describe some of the effects of chronic underfunding and repeated budget cuts.
I earn so little from my work as a Social Service Clinician for the Commonwealth that I am now forced to pawn my checks. There is a place in my neighborhood that a co-worker told me about so that I can afford to pay for gas to get to work. The Commonwealth does not pay me enough to live. - Social Service Clinician, Jefferson County
Because of the economic recession I have given up going to the doctor; I cannot afford the medical bills. I am desperately trying to keep up with a ridiculous caseload and constantly apologizing to families because I forget or don’t have enough time to get services in place for them within a reasonable amount of time. Because I have to speed up investigations and make decisions fast, rather than efficiently, it leads to unfair results for families. - Social Service Worker, Kenton County What we do is vital to the well being of this Commonwealth, and honestly we have been doing the best that we
can. We keep doing our jobs with less and less support from Frankfort. Caseloads and the needs of Kentucky’s families are continuing to rise. We are stretched too thin. Something has to give. - Social Service Clinician, Jefferson County Due to continued budget cuts we are constantly understaffed. We often have to cut home visits short to ensure that someone is in the office to take incoming calls. We need more staff so we can do home visits in pairs. - Social Service Clinician, Menifee County
passed revenue reforms since 1930, is enjoying an historic victory that saved funding for schools, health services and public safety. Oregon joined about 30 other states that have raised taxes to stave off budget cuts since the recession began. Some of these tax increases have disproportionately impacted lowerincome people, but Oregon joins nine other states in passing progressive reforms similar in nature to the ones that KFTC supports in House Bill 13. Oregon voters approved a measure that will temporarily increase the income tax rate on income above $125,000. Most Oregonians have been paying a 9 percent rate on their income tax. They’re raising revenue by temporarily raising the rates for their top income earners to 11.8 percent and 12 percent. After this increase expires, this upper income will still be taxed at a 9.9 percent rate. Additionally, the legislature passed some business taxes. These reforms will save schools from a 5 percent across–the–board decrease in state funding, and prevents drastic cuts in state–funded medical coverage, public safety and human services.
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Economic Justice Update
Budget bake sales go local; sales are planned across the state KFTC’s January Budget Bake Sale has spawned a series of bake sales in local chapter areas. The Madison County chapter followed up quickly, with a bake sale on January 21 that raised almost $20 (every bit helps) that chapter members have already delivered to the governor’s office. Now, KFTC’s northern Kentucky and Rowan County chapter members are planning March Budget Bake Sales. Members are using the bake sales to raise awareness about the impacts of the proposed budget, introduce more people to KFTC’s tax justice campaign, and to build relationships with local service providers whose ability to serve Kentuckians are impacted by budget cuts. Additionally, the Jefferson County Chapter is planning a bake sale for the near future.
To help organize a bake sale with your chapter or faith organization, get in touch with Jessica Lucas at 859-533-0613 or jessicabreen@kftc. org.
United for a Fair Economy (UFE) is offering a Tax Fairness Pledge. Here’s how it works: people calculate their tax breaks from the Bush-era tax cuts and pledge to give them to organizations working for tax fairness. Here is UFE’s invitation to learn more:
If so, you’re not alone. Each year, members of Responsible Wealth (a project of United for a Fair Economy) calculate their Clinton and Bush-era tax cuts through the Tax Fairness Pledge, and redirect those tax savings toward efforts to promote fairer taxation. For details, or to try Responsible Wealth’s 3-minute Tax Cut Calculator, visit www.responsiblewealth.org. Or contact Mike Lapham, 617-423-2148 x112 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• A recent poll found that the number of Kentucky adults below Medicare age without health insurance — let alone adequate and affordable health insurance — jumped up 10 points from 23% in 2008 to 33% in 2009. About 900,000 people in Kentucky have no health insurance. • According to a survey from the AARP, the recession is taking the hardest toll on African Americans, especially older black workers. Compared with the general population, more than twice as many African American older workers reported difficulty paying for mortgages or rent and medicine, and having borrowed money to pay living expenses. Twice as many blacks reported losing jobs. Twice as many blacks reported having spouses who either lost jobs or had to take second jobs.
United for a Fair Economy offers a Tax Fairness Pledge
Do you find it hard to believe that the upper-income tax cuts passed under Bush and Clinton are still in effect, despite the worst recession since the Great Depression?
Economic Justice Landscape Quick Hits:
United States Census This month, the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau will mail every Kentucky household a 10-question survey. The government relies heavily on census data to help direct funding for roads, schools, libraries and other public services. To help make sure Kentucky – and your home county – gets its fair share of government resources, please take the time to fill out the questionnaire and mail it back by Census Day,
April 1, 2010.
• The AARP’s national survey results are playing out here in Kentucky, where unemployment continues to jeopardize the stability of thousands of families. According to United for a Fair Economy’s State of the Dream Report, Kentucky ranks 21st in the nation for racial disparity in unemployment rates. The most recent national data for unemployment in states by race shows that Kentucky’s unemployment for African Americans was 16.5 percent, while the rate for whites was 10.1 percent, and the rate for Latinos was 9.6 percent. Senator Jim Bunning almost succeeded in March in taking the unemployment insurance safety net from 14,000 Kentuckians. His explanation? “Why not now?” • Central Kentucky’s Kentucky-American Water has asked the Public Service Commission for a 37% rate hike — an increase amounting to, on average, $9.44 a month. • The Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending is a collection of groups working to get the same protection for Kentucky families that Congress has enacted for military families: a 36 percent annual percentage rate (APR) cap on payday loan interest rates. Ohio caps rates at 28 percent and West Virginia never allowed payday loans in the first place, but Kentucky law permits a very high rate: 391 to 459 percent. House Bill 381 has earned a lot of support in the legislature. It is stuck in the House Banking and Insurance Committee. For more information, visit http://kyresponsiblelending.wordpress.com.
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Canary Project Update
Health effects of coal are enormous, House panel told
KFTC members got a rare opportunity in February to talk to the state legislature about the effects of coal mining on human health. Thanks to support from committee chair Rep. Tom Burch and Stream Saver Bill sponsor and committee member Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, the House Committee on Health and Welfare gave KFTC 20 minutes on its agenda. Three panelists made those 20 minutes count, focusing on the dangers not only to coal miners but to the health of whole communities in the coalfields. KFTC member and Floyd County resident Beverly May, a nurse practitioner who works in Perry County, said she sees miners who have contracted lung diseases from exposure to coal dust and silica dust. “At home in Floyd County, I have friends in Hueysville, David and Allen that are plagued by dust from both nearby strip mines and from coal trucks passing by their homes. This is the same sandstone dust which causes silicosis in the workers, so I have to wonder, what does it do to children with asthma or elders or anyone who breathes it every day?” She described the headwaters of Raccoon Creek, which are now polluted from nearby mining. “So I have to wonder, is the public water supply safe?” “The coal industry isn’t answering these questions because they don’t have to,” said May. “This body and the
federal government have not held them fully accountable.” Dr. Michael Hendryx, director of the West Virginia Rural Health Research Center and an Associate Professor at West Virginia University, said his research has revealed higher rates of chronic heart, chronic lung and renal failure mortality rates in coal-producing areas than in the rest of Appalachia or the nation, even after the rates have been adjusted for other factors such as smoking, age and education. “Part of this difference is due to the poverty and the economic disadvantage that exists in mining areas, but part of it I think is also due to the environmental consequences of mining, including especially mountaintop mining,” said Dr. Hendryx. His research has shown other health effects as well. “More recently we’ve seen problems related to dental health for people who live near mining areas that’s not due to things like access to dental care, age, smoking or other variables,” Hendryx said. “More recently than that, we’ve been doing some analysis that looks at birth outcomes and finds higher rates of low birth weight infants and higher rates of congenital abnormalities for babies that are born in proximity to mountaintop mining.” Hendryx also has found evidence that the effects become stronger as the levels of mining increase. “The worst
Floyd County member Beverly May testified to the committee both as a resident of a coal producing community and also as a health care professional in the eastern Kentucky coalfields.
Dr. Michael Hendryx , director of the West Virginia Rural Health Research Center, testified before the Health and Welfare Committee about his extensive research on the health impacts of coal mining on the miners and the communities. outcomes are present where the mining is heaviest, they are intermediate where the mining is intermediate, and they are best where the mining is absent,” he said. He attributed these health effects to the significant impairment of air and water quality around surface mining activity and the poverty prevalent in mining communities. “It’s going to be critical, I think, for Central Appalachia to diversify away from coal and to other alternatives, not as an environmental step or an energy step but as a public health priority.” Also presented to the committee was a statement from Dr. Paul Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. Epstein’s paper focused on the life cycle of coal and the health effects at each point in that cycle. Processing coal, for example, involves washing coal in a chemical mixture and producing a liquid byproduct known as slurry. According to Epstein, 19 of the known chemicals used and generated in processing coal are known cancer-causing agents, 24 are linked to lung and heart damage, and several remain untested as to their health effects. Stored in impoundments atop previously mined areas, slurry is considered by scientists to be an imminent threat to Appalachian water supplies because the ponds can leak or break and enter
nearby waterways. Kentucky has 115 slurry ponds. Coal combustion waste, the product that results from burning coal to produce electricity, contains toxic chemicals and heavy metals such as arsenic and lead. Like slurry, coal combustion waste is often stored in a wet form in ponds and can leach into groundwater supplies. Kentucky has 44 ash ponds, seven of which EPA characterizes as “high hazard,” meaning that a spill from those ponds would likely cause death and/or destruction. Bill Bissett, president of Kentucky Coal Association, was given a few minutes to rebut, but rather than deny any of the findings presented, he focused on the benefits of coal, including scholarships to help eastern Kentucky students go to medical school. In Washington D.C., two days prior to the Frankfort hearing, scientists briefed the U.S. Senate about the human health and environmental impacts of mountaintop removal/valley fill coal mining practices in Central Appalachia. Senators requested the briefing after scientists published extensive findings about the topic and called for an end to mountaintop removal and valley fill permits. To watch a video of the 21-minute state committee hearing, visit www. vimeo.com/9752035.
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Canary Project Update
Declaration gives public airing of KFTC’s grievances and demands For the past few years, KFTC members have engaged in a conversation about the role of civil disobedience in making change. Last year, several members went to Washington D.C. for the Capitol Climate Action, the largest mass demonstration ever on climate change, and took part in other direct actions in the region around coal. On February 25, members took an important step toward direct action in Kentucky by presenting a Declaration of Grievances and Demands (reprinted starting on page 16) at a press conference at the state capitol in Frankfort. “Today we are here to spark a public conversation about the kind of leadership that is urgently needed across our commonwealth and sorely lacking here in Frankfort and what we need to move our communities toward a healthier, cleaner and more prosperous future,” said KFTC chairperson K.A. Owens in opening remarks. Nine KFTC members sat in a semicircle with a four-foot scroll in front of them. One by one, they read paragraphs from the Declaration, which was loosely modeled after the Declaration of Independence. The statement included the words “We hold these truths to be selfevident …” and went on to state:
We believe that embedded within these
rights that have defined our nation are additional rights to be respected and preserved, that among these are the right to breathe clean air and drink safe water, the opportunity of a basic education for our children and safe employment. We believe everyone should enjoy the opportunity to worship freely and the right to speak openly without fearing for their jobs or attack from their neighbor. The Declaration included specific grievances about the legislature’s dominance by the coal industry and its eagerness to please powerful energy interests while ignoring the needs of its constituents. Members called on Governor Steve Beshear and House leaders Greg Stumbo and Rocky Adkins to: • Invite a genuine, open conversation among all stakeholders leading to a new vision and ideas for a more prosperous, healthy and sustainable economy in Kentucky, and especially in our Appalachian counties. • Call for an immediate end to extreme and sometimes violent speech that is being aimed at citizens who are working to protect Kentucky’s land, air and water. • Oppose legislation that puts the interest of the coal industry ahead of the public interest.
KFTC members McKinley Sumner, Tanya Turner, and Cari Moore participated in a nonviolent direct action training and planning session following the declaration of grievances.
KFTC members (left to right) Bev May, Rick Handshoe, Truman Hurt, Mickey McCoy, Patty Wallace, Doug Doerrfeld, Wendell Berry, Carl Shoupe and K.A. Owens presented KFTC’s “Declaration of Grievances and Demands.” • And vigorously support clean energy legislation and the Stream Saver Bill. Members also asked that the state appoint a new chair and members of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee who are not among the legislature’s strongest pro-coal members. “It is not an accident that the committee has a preponderance of coal interests on it,” said KFTC member Doug Doerrfeld. “All that we are asking is that they be representative of all the people.” In a written appendix of grievances, members cited a remark by committee vice-chair Rep. Keith Hall, sponsor of numerous pro-coal bills, regarding his appointment by House leaders as cochair of an interim energy committee: “I don’t think I got that position by accident.” Following the reading, members answered questions from the press. Asked whether their neighbors in Eastern Kentucky are really concerned about coal, they explained the difference between supporting coal miners and supporting the coal industry. KFTC and people in eastern Kentucky are not supporting “coal the industry, but coal the worker, which is different than supporting everything the industry perpetuates on a community,” explained Beverly May. They provided oral and written examples of how miners are disrespected and harassed, by legislators and the
industry, just as those fighting against mountaintop removal are. Asked about electing better leaders, Patty Wallace replied: “We’d love to send somebody else, but our hands are tied by the coal industry.” Member Carl Shoupe agreed. “Coal has such a stranglehold in Eastern Kentucky. People dislike mountaintop removal. People dislike strip mining.” But he explained that almost no family in his community is not tied to coal in some way, through a direct or indirect job or family member, and people feel pressured to keep quiet about their concerns. Other members participating in the presentation were Wendell Berry, Mickey McCoy, Truman Hurt, and Rick Handshoe. On the Saturday following the event, several members participated in a training to further explore the role of nonviolent direct actions in KFTC’s work, learn skills, and discuss next steps. KFTC members intend to discuss their concerns directly with House Leadership and the governor in meetings scheduled for later in March.
To watch a video of members reading the Declaration, visit www.kftc.org/declaration
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
The unified Declaration of members in good standing of the Commonwealth of Kentucky February 25, 2010 I. When in the course of human events a crisis of conditions and confidence looms, it is necessary that the people test the political bands that bind together their community and, finding those bands wanting or frayed, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes of their discontent and the correctness of their demands. II. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. We believe that embedded within these rights that have defined our nation are additional rights to be respected and preserved, that among these are the right to breathe clean air and drink safe water, the opportunity of a basic education for our children and safe employment. We believe everyone should enjoy the opportunity to worship freely and the right to speak openly without fearing for their jobs or attack from their neighbor. III. To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men and women, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. We harbor special appreciation and pride that our Carl Shoupe, Harlan County state’s founders saw fit to establish Kentucky as a Commonwealth – declaring its commitment to the people. We wish to see our government as the just expression of our interdependence, our best hope for the pursuit and protection of the collective good – our common wealth. IV. Today, Kentucky faces a crisis of monumental proportions. We reside in the eye of the storm of the international energy and climate crisis – a crisis that poses steep challenges today and colossal threats tomorrow. Coal is still a major part of our energy landscape in Kentucky, but not for much longer. Coal production and employment are in decline in Central Appalachia, a consequence of depleted reserves and increasing demand for cleaner energy sources. Yet many of our communities and families remain dependent on coal jobs, waiting for better choices. And too many of our political leaders remain subservient to coal companies that are determined to take every penny’s worth of coal, at any cost to our land and people, before allowing Kentucky to transform our energy economy. V. We know that our commonwealth has the opportunity to turn crisis into progress, and respond to threats in ways that build new prosperity. There are better choices to be made if we can find leaders with the vision and courage to make them. These are times that cry out for leaders who serve the public interest today, and the interests of our children
Pally Wallace, Lawrence County
and grandchildren in the future, by advocating for: • Safe and secure jobs for our coal miners today; • Strong protections for our mountains, productive soils, forests, water, air, and culture; • A transition plan for coalfield workers and communities to a new economy; • Investment in safe and clean energy, and no further subsidies for coal; • Honest dialogue about the true costs of coal and the real challenges facing the industry; and • Actions to heal the hostile and dangerous factionalism that has been stirred up in many communities. VI. Instead of seizing this moment, however, our government is squanderTruman Hurt, Perry County ing the opportunity and deepening the crisis. At too many turns, our elected leaders have revealed themselves to be servants of the coal companies, not of the people. It seems that no financial or verbal tribute to coal companies is too extreme and no usurpation of our children’s birthright too severe for our leaders in Frankfort. The corrosive influence of coal on our democratic institutions is damaging our Commonwealth and our common future. Elected leaders have stifled public discussion of essential issues, diverted scarce public resources to subsidize wealthy corporations, and sped the enactment of laws that despoil our water, air and land. We submit these facts to a candid world: • Legislative leaders and our Governor have failed to create or protect open space for democratic discussion about essential public issues, most notably the Stream Saver Bill, which has been denied fair and open consideration for the past five years. • House Leaders have corrupted the democratic principles of our Commonwealth by installing in positions of great influence coal industry representatives who are thinly disguised as public servants, most notably the chairman and many members of the Natural Resources Committee. • They have virtually re-instituted the broad form deed by proposing to give the state and corporations the right to seize private property for carbon pipelines and underground carbon storage. These bills would go even further by subsidizing private pipelines with public funds and shielding corporations from future liabilities related to their carbon dioxide pollution. • The House has made a mockery of ethics and decency by voting to establish a
Wendell Berry and Carl Shoupe take a moment to celebrate after airing their grievances about corrupt politicians and dirty energy at the press conference.
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
The unified Declaration of members in good standing of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
“Natural Resource Caucus” comprised of lawmakers who “promote the interests of the coal, oil and gas industry.” This action would allow those industries and their lobbyists to spend an unlimited amount on food, drinks and entertainment for caucus members. • A majority in the Senate cast a reckless, although ultimately failed, vote for a proposed constitutional amendment that declares “no law or rule shall prevent the severing of coal.” Its passage would have made numerous existing health, safety and environmental laws ineffective. • Meanwhile our leaders have, thus far, failed to conduct authentic, open Rick Handshoe, Floyd County discussion about genuine, clean energy solutions that Kentucky so desperately needs. A clean energy bill was sent to a coal-dominated committee; the House passed a recent measure discouraging federal action to address our global climate crisis; and our Governor and Senate are pushing to end the state's ban on nuclear generation while willfully ignoring the still unsolved problem of safe disposal of radioactive waste. Ironically, citizens have been told that the ban must be lifted in order to begin a public conversation about nuclear power in Kentucky. • These grievances describe acts of leadership taken on behalf of powerful energy interests in only the first half of the 2010 General Assembly session; however they illustrate long-standing and severe problems within our democracy.
Page 17 But the difficulty of the task and the urgency of the problems compel us to demand more of our elected leaders. We do not believe the people of this Commonwealth should be asked to accept corruption arising from old habits or inertia. We should not tolerate self-serving measures when authentic solutions are available. Our grandchildren should not suffer tomorrow because of a lack of vision or political courage today. VIII. We therefore, on behalf of the good people of this Commonwealth, call upon our government to fulfill its sworn obligation to faithfully serve the people and lead us toward the better future that is our right and our demand.
Mickey McCoy, Martin County
We call upon Governor Steve Beshear, and House Leaders Greg Stumbo and Rocky Adkins to take the following actions: • Invite a genuine, open conversation among all stakeholders leading to a new vision and ideas for a more prosperous, healthy and sustainable economy in Kentucky, and especially in our Appalachian counties. • Call for an immediate end to extreme and sometimes violent speech that is being aimed at citizens who are working to protect Kentucky's land, air and water. • Oppose legislation that puts the interest of the coal industry ahead of the public interest. • Vigorously support clean energy legislation and the Stream Saver Bill. Additionally we call upon House Leaders Greg Stumbo and Rocky Adkins to take the following necessary actions:
VII. We are aware of the difficulty of the political task at hand. We know the fear and desperation that some of our fellow citizens are experiencing. We know of the presence of influential and powerful interests entrenched in our state capital. We are not naïve about the pragmatic workings of government or the practical difficulties of legislating.
• Remove Chairman Jim Gooch from his position as chair of the Natural Resources Committee and appoint someone to that position who can restore and keep the public's trust. • Reassign members of the House Natural Resources Committee so as to reduce the excessive influence of the coal industry and to ensure that all of Kentucky's natural resources – including our soil, air, and water – are given fair consideration. • Restore public trust by openly and fully revealing any financial ties between yourselves and the coal industry, and then severing those ties or stepping aside from your public leadership positions.
Beverly May, Floyd County, took a few minutes after the press conference to take questions from Jim Williams, WHAS Radio, concerning how she feels she is being represented by Rep. Greg Stumbo of Floyd County.
Before the press conference (after the Health and Welfare Committee meeting) Patty Wallace had a quick word with new Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett.
Appendix of Specific Concerns and Grievances Appendix to the Declaration February 25, 2010 We stand at an important moment in Kentucky’s history. We reside in the center of the storm when it comes to the debate over the impacts of mining and burning coal and the need to transition to cleaner energy sources. Kentucky’s residents and businesses are vulnerable to sharply rising costs of fossil fuels. We also lag behind neighboring states in terms of innovation and the development of new clean energy jobs. Kentucky has a genuine opportunity to build a more prosperous economy based on cleaner, healthier energy sources. We need leaders who are willing to pursue a vision of a better future, conduct full and fair public discussions about our energy challenges and opportunities, and chart a course that is independent of powerful energy interests. However, we find such leadership to be lacking in the General Assembly. Below is a description of our specific concerns, which are articulated in three categories: the hostile and dangerous atmosphere that has been created in our communities; the excessive political influence of the coal industry on our democratic institutions and leaders; and the pursuit of public policies that put the interests of coal companies and other powerful energy players ahead of the public interest.
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010 Hostile and Dangerous Atmosphere The coal industry, some elected leaders, and some media outlets have created a hostile and dangerous atmosphere in Kentucky, especially in coal producing communities. Efforts to enforce existing federal and state laws are frequently characterized as a “war on coal.” A representative of a U.S. Senator told a crowd of 4,000 at a public hearing in Pikeville that a federal proposal to give closer scrutiny to permit applications for burying streams is “telling these men to start digging their own graves.” Such extreme claims are even more regrettable since it has since come to light that the industry was, at the time, concluding negotiations to voluntarily operate in the manner being proposed. This type of rhetoric has been picked up, repeated and sometimes sensationalized – but seldom challenged – by the media. An eastern Kentucky newspaper described the public debate about mountaintop removal and valley fills as a “war.” WYMT-TV calls those fighting to protect their drinking water as “opponents.” The media unquestioningly quote claims that those fighting mountaintop removal and valley fills are “outsiders,” while knowing this is not the case and ignoring the fact that most major coal companies operating in eastern Kentucky are based out of state. And, up to now, our political leaders have – at best – failed to speak out against extreme speech aimed at those who are working to protect Kentucky’s land, air and water. Their silence, in conjunction with other more direct efforts to intimidate and sow fear, has pitted neighbor against neighbor and contributed to troubling levels of polarization. As a result, many people live in
This sticker above is just one small example about how hostile the environment has become in the coalfields, spurred by some politicians.
fear of being the targets for verbal and possibly physical abuse and are afraid to speak freely.
places we call home.
Below are just some examples:
Excessive influence of the coal industry on our democratic institutions and leaders
• When a coal company operating in Perry County was ordered by an administrative judge to stop using a haul road that it was using illegally, the company told its workers to picket in front of the houses of the neighbors who had made the complaint.
The coal industry has a troubling influence on and close ties with key legislators and committees in the General Assembly, especially those who are responsible for regulating the industry and providing leadership to the development of energy policies.
• When a coal company in Harlan County was ordered to stop adding more sludge to a pond that already was several feet higher than its permitted level – a pond that was perched above several homes – the coal company laid off its workers and told them a couple in the community who had made the complaint were to blame for the loss of their jobs.
For example, in 2009 the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that House Speaker Greg Stumbo earned $41,000 as a board member of Energy Coal Resources, while Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins was employed by the same coal operator as public affairs director. (Adkins’s position ended in 2009 and the company has gone bankrupt.) Rep. Rocky Adkins and Rep. Keith Hall both reported in 2009 that they had a financial stake in Beech Fork Coal Company, where Rep. Hall was CEO. Rep. Adkins’ financial disclosure statement indicates that he is now the President of RJS Enterprises. A December 2009 Courier-Journal story indicated that he does work for Joseph Craft, the CEO of Alliance Resource Partners. Craft has contributed at least $25,500 to state and local candidates in recent years. Alliance Coal’s political action committee has given an additional $9,000 to state and local candidates since 2008; its employees have collectively donated $54,000 to Kentucky candidates since 2000.
• Recently, a local official in Perry County wished for the death of an individual who has been outspoken for clean water and against destructive mining practices. He made this statement to a classroom of high school students! In the same month, a federal mine inspector in Pikeville posted the message “hang a tree hugger today” on a social networking site. These incidents were reported in the media, yet our elected leaders and industry representatives have been silent and have not publicly spoken out to condemn such threats. • A community college professor was warned by a State Representative after she was seen having a conversation with a KFTC organizer at a public meeting. A local community service organization has been warned that some donations it normally receives may be in jeopardy because an active KFTC member sits on its board. As has long been the case, miners are also subject to intimidation by their employers. KFTC members stand with our friends, family and neighbors who have been ordered to falsify dust samples or operate in an unsafe manner or in unsafe areas of a mine, and who face the threat of being fired if they don’t comply. We know many workers who have been pressured to attend rallies organized by their employers, told to show up on the clock or even on a scheduled day off. And we understand that beneath all the noise, fear and anger of the public debate, we share a common love for our families, communities, and the
Another example is Rep. Jim Gooch, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, who is appointed to his position by House leadership and whose close ties to the coal industry have been well documented. Rep. Gooch was listed as a member of the Western Kentucky Coal Association and is vice-president of West Kentucky Steel Construction, a company that does significant business with the coal industry. During 2009, 4 of 5 House Democratic leaders made personal contributions to Rep. Gooch’s re-election campaign. He was also handsomely supported by the coal industry. From November 2008 to November 2009, a time period in which there was no election, he received $16,950 in campaign contributions, 76% of which came from individuals or political action committees connected with the coal industry. In fact, the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee, which
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010 is appointed by House leadership, is significantly comprised of legislators with close personal, financial and political ties to the coal industry. Rep. Keith Hall, who is CEO of Beechfork Mining and vice-chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, explained to a public audience last October in Pikeville that he was the chair of the interim energy committee in Frankfort and, “I don’t think I got that position by accident.” Harmful Public Policies The excessive influence by the coal industry has negative consequences for public policy and fair democratic process. For example, this is the fifth year in a row that the House Natural Resources & Environment Committee, chaired by Rep. Jim Gooch, has not held a hearing on the stream saver bill (HB 396, HB 416) or the issue of mountaintop removal strip mining and valley fills. In addition, a clean energy bill (HB 408) was recently assigned by House leadership to the House Natural Resources Committee rather than to the more appropriate House Tourism Development and Energy Committee. This bill would promote energy efficiency and renewable energy in Kentucky. We urgently hope that it has not been sent to lie quietly in this coal-dominated committee or, at best, be considered only through a pro-coal lens. The chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Jim Gooch, and his vice-chairman Rep. Keith Hall are listed as sponsors on five bills or resolutions (HB 213, HB 409, HR 132, HJR 20, and HCR 84) that put the interests of the coal industry ahead of the public interest. The remaining vicechairs of this committee (Rep. Stewart, Rep. Steele and Rep. Couch) are listed as sponsors on three of the five proposals. And 8 of the 14 members of the House Natural Resources Committee have sponsored two or more of these bills or resolutions, described below: HCR 84 was sponsored by Rep. Tommy Thompson and co-sponsored by 19 others, including Reps. Gooch and Hall, to create a “Natural Resources Caucus” to promote the interests of the coal, oil and gas industries. Forming such a caucus will allow those industries and their lobbyists to evade legislative ethics rules and spend an unlimited amount on food, drinks, and
Page 19 entertainment for the members of this caucus. Rep. Rocky Adkins has sponsored, and nine other legislators including Reps. Jim Gooch and Keith Hall have cosponsored, HB 213 to allow “pipeline companies” to condemn private lands and receive taxpayerfunded subsidies to construct carbon transport pipelines across those lands. This bill passed unanimously through the Natural Resources Committee and was later approved in the House. It is pending in the Senate. Rep. Ancel Smith sponsored, and eleven other legislators including Reps. Gooch and Hall cosponsored, HB 409 to allow overweight coal trucks and other over-sized vehicles to park whenever they choose in the middle of public roads without a special permit, blocking traffic for up to an hour each time. The bill would also allow those trucks to pay a few hundred dollars for permission to block a road for up to 4 hours any time they wanted. This bill was later withdrawn due to public concern. Rep. Joe Fischer has sponsored, and 9 other legislators including Reps. Jim Gooch and Keith Hall cosponsored, HJR 20 before the House Natural Resources Committee to prohibit all state and local governments in Kentucky from enforcing any regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Here is a case where the chair and the vice-chair of the committee with the mandate to protect the environment are working to keep environmental laws from being enforced! Rep. Jim Gooch sponsored, and thirty-one other legislators including House Speaker Greg Stumbo and House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins cosponsored, HR 132 calling on Congress to prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. This legislation passed the House on February 23 with a vote of 76 to 16. In addition to those bills, a number of other troubling coal and energy measures have been advanced this session. For example: A constitutional amendment was
introduced in the House and Senate (SB 3 and HB 253) to “declare that no law or rule shall prevent the severing of coal,” a sweeping statement that would render ineffective numerous existing health, safety and environmental laws, and conflict with the broad form deed constitutional amendment approved overwhelmingly by Kentucky voters in 1988. This bill got 55% of the votes on the Senate floor, but failed because constitutional amendments need a 60% majority. Legislation (HB 491) was recently filed in the House to seize land deep underground as the property of the Commonwealth for the purposes of storing carbon dioxide pollution. The bill gives the Energy Cabinet the right to condemn necessary property rights if it is “unable to reach agreement with owners of affected surface, mineral or water estates.” While private corporations would profit from the creation of carbon storage facilities on seized properties, the bill transfers longterm ownership of the stored waste, including costs and liabilities, to a new Kentucky Carbon Storage Authority that would be appointed by the governor. Additionally, the Kentucky Senate passed SB 26 to end the state’s ban on nuclear power generation in the Commonwealth and issue permits for nuclear plants even though they lack a long-term disposal solution for their radioactive waste. This action is supported by the Beshear administration, which said that the ban must be lifted in order to begin a conversation in Kentucky about nuclear power. While the above examples describe actions taken during the first half of
the 2010 General Assembly, Kentuckians have endured a long history of actions taken by legislators with close ties to powerful energy companies to weaken protections for mine safety, public health and the environment. For example, in 1998 Rep. Gooch sponsored a bill to prohibit the Natural Resources Cabinet from developing rules to control greenhouse gas pollution in response to the Kyoto Protocol. He was appointed chairman of the Natural Resources Committee soon after. In 2007, he played a prominent role in attempts to weaken important mine safety legislation that was needed to address serious shortcomings in existing law that led to the death of several miners. And in 2008 and 2009, committee members Reps. Keith Hall and Ancel Smith were sponsors of bills to weaken those improved safety standards. Their proposal was approved by the House Natural Resources Committee in 2009, although it did not become law. Sources: For information about 2010 legislation: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/10RS/ record.htm For information about campaign contributions: www.kref.state.ky.us/krefsearch For information about legislators’ statements of financial disclosure: http:// klec.ky.gov/reports/legislators.htm Related newspaper articles: Bill would ease mine safety regulation, Lexington Herald Leader, John Cheves, 2-25-2009 Call for ethics targets Stumbo, Lexington Herald Leader, John Cheves, 1-09-09 Adkins working for coal operator Craft, The Courier Journal, Tom Loftus, 1209-2009
Mary Love visually depicts how the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee and other House leaders are choking democracy by not allowing the Stream Saver Bill from being heard in committee.
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Canary Project Update Federal reports detail extent of mountaintop removal impacts
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued two reports examining mountaintop removal coal mining in the last few months. The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that provides information to Congress about how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. GAO aims to improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government. The December 2009 report, Characteristics of Active and Reclaimed Surface Mine Sites in Kentucky and West Virginia, confirmed what KFTC members already know – that “there is limited public access to information on the size, location, and life span of [mountaintop surface mining] operations, or on how the land can be expected to look afterward.”
The report also found: • Post-mine land use in Kentucky was most commonly for “fish and wildlife” purposes, while in West Virginia it was for forestland.
• 44 percent of acres under open permit in Kentucky are concentrated in Perry, Pike and Knott counties. • Kentucky and West Virginia have collectively approved more than 2,000 valley fills totaling at least 4.9 billion cubic yards of excess spoil in them. The February 2010 report, Financial Assurances for, and Long-Term Oversight of, Mines with Valley Fills in Four Appalachian States, doesn’t give much new information, but does, according to blogger Ken Ward Jr., “repeat and
confirm what should already be well known, but is often ignored by the coal industry and its politician friends.” Under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA), mine operators must provide financial assurances that previous mine sites can be reclaimed and the impact on streams mitigated. The purpose of the study was to determine whether or not regulatory agencies that are supposed to oversee this process are effectively doing their jobs. Not surprisingly, it found: • Reforestation efforts at some reclaimed surface coal mine sites needed improvement; • Surface coal mine sites have contaminated streams and harmed aquatic
organisms; • Valley fills may affect water flow; and
• Mine operators have not always returned mine sites to their approximate original contour when required to do so under SMCRA. Neither report offers recommendations for action, so it is unclear how this information will be used by Congress or the Obama administration. However, on February 23, the Senate requested a briefing by scientists who authored Mountaintop Mining Consequences, about the health and environmental impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining practices. Those scientists called for an immediate halt to mountaintop removal and valley fills.
Scientists: evidence overwhelming for stopping valley fills now
The Obama administration has pledged to use the “best science” available to make decisions about whether and how mountaintop removal and valley fills should continue. Now that best science is saying mountaintop removal and valley fills should be stopped. In a study published in the journal Science in January, 12 of the nation’s leading scientists describe mountaintop removal as “pervasive and irreversible” while noting that mining permits continue to be issued even though there is overwhelming scientific documentation of the extensive damage done. Science is an international journal read by more than 1 million people. Science publishes only peer-reviewed articles, which undergo intense review by a wide panel of scientists and experts.
Scientists, industries and governments consider such articles the most objective source of information about topics. Strict scientific analysis was used to come to these conclusions. The scientists compiled results from articles and reports published about mountaintop mining/ valley fill (MTM/VF) effects. They then compared the amount of heavy metals and toxic chemicals found in samples taken from water flowing both directly under valley fills and in unmined areas to levels considered safe for human consumption. These safety levels are set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As MTM/VF practices are similar throughout the Central Appalachian region, the authors concluded that all findings can be applied to any area where MTM/VF occurs.
KFTC Voter Guides Watch for KFTC’s Voter Guides in late April leading up to the May primary elections in Kentucky
The Voter Registration deadline is on Monday, April 19, 2010 The primary election is on Tuesday, May 18, with polls open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Human Health The health of people living in coal mining communities declines as a result of exposure to mining dust and water contaminated by mining. Rates of premature death, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension hospitalization, lung cancer, and chronic heart, lung and kidney diseases for both men and women increase as coal production increases, even after adjusting for other health-related factors such as socioeconomic status. Water Groundwater wells are ruined. Toxic levels of several mine-derived chemicals were found in wells. Streams are buried. Downstream streams and rivers are adversely affected by unsafe levels of selenium, manganese, aluminum, iron and other mine-derived chemicals and metals. Mutated, toxic fish have been found. Weather & Climate The number and severity of floods is increased. Functional forests are destroyed. Even decades later, re-growth of trees and vegetation is limited. The ability for the land to sequester carbon decreases. Biodiversity declines. Mitigation Efforts Waterways are permanently altered. Vegetation does not re-grow. Efforts to restore streams and replant forests, approved by the Army Corps of Engineers during the mine permitting process, do not work. Authors point out that the Army Corps has testified that they do not know if these efforts are successful at restoring the ecosystem.
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Canary Project Update
I Love Mountains day brings hundreds of Kentuckians to Frankfort all with the same message, “New Power Now”
Snow on the ground and ice on the cars could not keep more than 800 members from traveling to Frankfort on February 11 to attend KFTC’s 5th Annual I Love Mountains Day. After a march from the Kentucky River up Capital Avenue, to and around the Capitol, the enthusiastic crowd brought their message of clean water and new power to the face of political power and declared an end to business as usual. “We are here today in Frankfort to call for an end to the destruction of our land, water and people,” said KFTC Chair K.A. Owens, laying out KFTC’s vision for Kentuckians. “We have a vision. We want new power that’s not based on big industry! Yes, we are working for a clean energy future. Yes, it’s time for a just economic transition in Appalachia. Yes, we believe that coal communities and workers deserve good jobs that don’t sacrifice their land, water and health. Yes, we demand elected leaders who serve the common good, not the highest bidder,” said Owens as he rallied the crowd. “These are the things we are fighting for. These are goals that must be won. It’s time for New Power in Kentucky. That’s why we are here today.” This New Power vision was echoed by other speakers as they told personal stories about living and organizing in
Country musician Kathy Mattea played “Black Water” by Jean Ritchie for the enthusastic crowd.
the Kentucky coalfields. Cari Moore and Miranda Brown told the crowd of the youth’s vision for Kentucky. “My vision for Appalachia, while ambitious, is not unreasonable nor unattainable, a future in which the natural advantages of being Appalachian will have been preserved for our descendants,” said Moore. “I am seeking an Appalachia we are not forced to choose between employment and the environment, health and cultural heritage. I want to see a diversified economy where sustainable energy and sustainable jobs are the standard. In my grandfather’s day people wanted better options, and I think it’s high time we have some.” Keynote speaker Kathy Mattea spoke of the political will necessary to move Kentucky forward and to unite people in the coalfields to work for a better future. “What we need, in Kentucky, in West Virginia, in Virginia and Ohio and Tennessee and, yes, in Washington, D.C, … is leadership. We need leaders who care more about the long-term prosperity of their constituents than their own political careers,” said Mattea. “We desperately need a way of having this conversation that goes beyond the short term. We need courageous leaders who are willing to step into the center of this vortex and hold the vision of the longterm solution, through all the desperation, the noise, and rage and fear.” Mattea also spoke about uniting, not dividing, coalfield residents as the coal industry is doing. “If the prosperity of some is built on the backs of the exploitation of others, everyone loses. And yet, if we simply exchange one group’s version of ‘hell’ for another ’s, we still lose,” Mattea added. “The people who depend on the mining industry for their livelihoods cannot be tossed away, either. We must consider all people’s needs as we try to find a solution to this problem. Everyone needs a safe place to live, a way to make a decent living and a sense of security for themselves and their family. Mattea concluded: “I pray that we can find a way to refrain from taking our pain out on each other, and continue
to work towards a vision of an economy and an environment where all people here in the coalfields can thrive, so that this moment, and this process, can stand as a monument to what is possible when people work together, and as an inspiration for future generations.” Murray State University student Miranda Brown energized the elementary, high school and college, students who traveled from all across the state to participate. “We students from EKU and Morehead State; brave youth fighting mountaintop removal at the edge of coal country. We’re students at UK, pushing that flagship institution to fill its role at the forefront of change – even when it comes to energy. All the way west to Murray State and Western, proving that time and again those of us in the western part of the state are aware of the truly not so distant defilement of our mountains,” Brown said. The speakers acknowledged that it will take more than I Love Mountains Day to change the everyday politics of Kentucky. It will take new power and political will to create a diversified and transitional economy in the coalfields to move away from destructive strip mining practices as part of a broader vision for Kentucky. Mickey McCoy and other speakers
Kentucky author Jason Howard asked the crowd if they were ready to “dissent, rebel, and raise some hell.” said KFTC members are ready and willing to do what it takes – run for office, elect officials who will represent the best interests of all Kentuckians, march, rally, participate in nonviolent direct action, and always speak up. McCoy challenged the crowd to do just this, to help build the growing groundswell. “We must speak in our schools, our organizations, our churches; to friends and strangers. We must write our elected officials and letters to the editors. Blog it, baby. Facebook it.”
Visit www.kftc.org/ILM2010 to see full videos of the speeches and music provided by Nora, Ben and Eli, along with Daniel Martin Moore and Ben Sollee.
More than 800 people marched from the Kentucky River to and around the Capitol on a cold February day to rally for clean water, an end to mountaintop removal and new power. Photos provided by Richard Moore
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Canary Project Update
Youth hold governor’s staff accountable for waffles on issues
As part of this year’s I Love Mountains Day, more than 20 KFTC young people – all between the ages of 5 and 25 – met with five members of Governor Beshear’s staff. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss concerns about the harm that mountaintop removal coal mining creates as well as talk about creating a transition towards a clean and sustainable energy economy. The KFTC meeting was entirely youth-planned and youthled. Six-year old Makayla Urias from Pike County shared what it is like living next to a mountaintop removal operation by bringing water from home. “This is the water I use to bathe in. We cannot drink this water. Would you like to drink it?” she asked the governor’s staff. “It smells and makes my body feel bad. Please tell the governor to help the future of Kentucky be healthy and safe lives.” The young KFTC members also presented scientific information about the pollution and destruction created by mountaintop removal coal mining. “The scientific consensus is that mountaintop removal is bad for Ken-
tucky. Seventy percent of water samples in a recent study have come up bad, contaminated with lead, selenium, and arsenic – arsenic being the main ingredient in rat poison,” said Bowling Green member Greg Capillo. They also presented information about the economic benefits and jobs that could be created in eastern Kentucky and the rest of the state if Kentucky chose to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy alternatives. “The Apollo Alliance reported that if Kentucky invested just $43 million per year over the next 20 years, the state could transition the 18,000 coalmining and 52,000 coal-related jobs into other employment,” said Louisville high school student Becky Jones. The group used a large board to list the questions they asked the administration with a space to mark answers they received as a “yes”, “no”, or “waffle.” By the end of the meeting, the group received a commitment to a meeting with Governor Beshear within a month. The youth delegation is now working with a larger set of KFTC members to plan their meeting with Governor Beshear.
Claire Sandberg and Makayla Urias sit in front of the youth “waffle” board. The youth kept track of the administration’s answers (or non-answers and waffles).
Below is a complete summary of youth questions and the responses provided by the governor’s staff 1.) Will Governor Beshear support S.B. 139 and H.B. 416, the Stream Saver Bill? Answer: Waffle
More than 20 youth met with the governor’s staff after I Love Mountains Day. The youth were strong, direct and on point as they questioned the administration and their commitment to coal. The youth got a plegde for a followup meeting between Governor Beshear and KFTC members toward the end of March.
Check www.KFTC.org/blog for more information concerning the meeting with Governor Beshear toward the end of March.
2.) Will the Governor create and announce a plan to end mountaintop removal coal mining and valley fills? Answer: No 3.) Will Governor Beshear support H.B. 408, the Clean-Energy bill? Answer: ? (Will get back to us soon once they study the bill – stay tuned for their response.) 4.) Will the Governor begin working vigorously to create new, green jobs and a new clean energy economy in Kentucky, especially for coal-producing areas and workers? Answer: Yes 5.) Will Governor Beshear meet with KFTC – within a month – to talk about mountaintop removal and Kentucky’s clean energy future? Answer: Yes
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Canary Project Update
MSHA announces new program to end Black Lung Disease New information shows the disease continues to disable coal miners at an alarming rate by Stephen A. Sanders, Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center Breathing coal mine dust can cause lung diseases such as coal workers pneumoconiosis (CWP), emphysema, silicosis and bronchitis — known collectively as black lung. Black lung can lead to lung impairment, permanent disability and even death. While the existence of black lung disease has been known about in this country for more than one hundred years, it was not until 1969, in response to miners’ demands and in the wake of the mine explosion at Farmington, West Virginia, that Congress enacted the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, “to provide for the protection of the health and safety of persons working in the coal mining industry.” The Act was a comprehensive mine safety law, including provisions to protect miners from the hazard of black lung disease, limits for respirable dust, and a system of compensating miners and widows of miners disabled by black lung disease. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is charged with developing and promulgating health and safety standards. Today, 40 years after the passage of the Act, black lung disease still is a major health threat to coal miners. Coal miners not only continue to develop new cases of respiratory illness, but also do so at sharply increased rates. Moreover, miners are developing worsened forms of respiratory illness at earlier ages. Studies based on chest x-ray surveillance conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) indicate that the prevalence of CWP is increasing. Even more disturbing is that advanced and seriously debilitating cases of CWP are now seen in younger miners. NIOSH has identified a number of areas as “hot spots” for black lung disease. These hot spots include many of the eastern Kentucky counties. In August 2008, NIOSH reported the following information which resulted from its
June 2006 evaluations of working miners in Letcher and Knott counties as part of its Enhanced Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program: In Letcher County, of the 85 miners examined: • 12 percent (10 miners) showed signs of pneumoconiosis. • 1 percent (1 miner) showed signs of PMF. • 4 percent (3 miners) showed signs of advanced pneumoconiosis. In Knott County, NIOSH reported of the 68 miners examined: • 15 percent (10 miners) showed signs of pneumoconiosis. • 1 percent (1 miner) showed signs of PMF. • 3 percent (2 miners) showed signs of advanced pneumoconiosis Source: www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/surveillance/ords/ecwhsp.html While there is no cure for black lung disease, there are important and potentially life-saving measures that MSHA requires to be undertaken to reduce exposure to respirable coal mine dust and prevent disease. These methods include dust suppression through water sprays and dust elimination through ventilation. In December 2009, Joseph Main, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, announced a multifaceted, comprehensive strategy to end new cases of black lung disease among the nation’s coal miners. MSHA said its new strategy would include rulemaking, enhanced enforcement, collaborative outreach and education and training. The details of the new strategy have not been revealed; MSHA’s Federal Register announcement said that proposed rules would be issued in September 2010. Besides enhanced enforcement, one issue of concern is the permissible level of respirable dust in the mine. The 1969 Act set a standard for exposure to respirable dust at 2.0 mg/m3 effective in 1972 and this is the present standard. In 1995, NIOSH published a document entitled
Criteria for a Recommended Standard Occupational Exposure to Respirable Coal Mine Dust. In the foreword NIOSH stated: This criteria document reviews available information about the adverse health effects associated with exposure to respirable coal mine dust. Epidemiological studies have clearly demonstrated that miners have an elevated risk of developing occupational respiratory diseases when they are exposed to respirable coal mine dust over a working lifetime at the current MSHA permissible limit (PEL) of 2 mg/m3. The 1995 NIOSH Criteria Document recommended that the respirable coal mine dust permissible exposure limit be cut in half. In February 1996, the Secretary of Labor convened an Advisory Committee to assess the adequacy of MSHA’s program and standards to control respirable dust in underground and surface coal mines, as well as other ways to eliminate black lung disease and silicosis among coal miners. The committee recommended that MSHA consider implementing NIOSH’s recommendation and reducing the per-
missible level of respirable dust. The NIOSH Criteria Document recommendation was never implemented. In recent years NIOSH and MSHA have developed a Continuous Personal Dust Monitor (PDM), which is worn by the individual miner. The monitor is able to provide a continuous digital reading of the respirable dust in the area. In addition the information is stored and can be retrieved later for review. MSHA has not mandated the use of the PDM. On March 9 there was a meeting at the Appalshop Theater in Whitesburg concerning black lung disease and MSHA’s new program. Dr. Greg Wagner, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Mine Safety and Health Administration, was scheduled to speak about MSHA’s recently announced campaign to end black lung disease. Anita Wolfe with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health also was scheduled to talk about what NIOSH has learned about the incidence of black lung from its surveillance of miners’ x-rays. For more information contact Steve Sanders at the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center 606-633-3929.
Energy Workshops Appalachia- Science in the Public Interest and the Kentucky Solar Partnership are offering 13 workshops on topics related to solar energy and residential energy conservation. The Sustainable Energy Training Series is oriented towards professionals seeking to expand their knowledge and the scope of services they offer, as well as others interested in learning more about these important fields. The workshops will provide preparation for those interested in becoming certified solar installers (PV and solar thermal). The workshops are presented in accordance with industry standards and provide Continuing Education Units for certified installers.
More information is at: www.kysolar.org.
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Rural Electric Cooperative Update
KFTC members stage huge turnout for hearing on air pollution permit for the Smith One coal burning plant More than 200 people turned out to a public hearing February 4 to tell the Kentucky Division of Air Quality (KDAQ) why it shouldn’t issue an air permit for the proposed Smith One power plant. East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC), a generation and transmission electric co-op with 16 member distribution co-ops in rural areas of Kentucky, wants to build a new coal-burning power plant at its Smith Station in Clark County. KFTC members and other co-op customers want EKPC to abandon the plan and instead opt for energy efficiency and renewable energy measures that would avoid more pollution, cost less, create more jobs, and more than meet EKPC’s energy demand. In a packed room at the Clark County Cooperative Extension Service
in Winchester, more than 40 concerned customers and other clean energy proponents took the podium. Randy Wilson, a Clay County resident and customer of Jackson Energy, said risking the long-term health of Kentuckians is irresponsible in light of cleaner energy alternatives. He pointed to a coalition of 20 electric cooperatives in South Carolina similar to EKPC as a potent example of what can be achieved with forward-looking energy policies. Jeff Chapman-Crane, a Letcher County KFTC member and Cumberland Valley Co-op member, presented the KDAQ with hard numbers. “The Smith plant would emit thousands of tons of toxic pollutants into the air we breathe, would cost nearly a billion dollars to construct and would, in all likelihood, increase utility rates as the cost is passed on to the consumer.”
KFTC members joined other rural electric co-op customers across the state last month in signing a letter to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture questioning approval of risky financing for the proposed Smith One Power Plant in Clark County. The Rural Utility Service (RUS), an arm of the USDA, normally provides loans to electric co-ops. But in 2008 the RUS put a moratorium on loans for financially risky coal and nuclear plants. To go ahead with the Smith One Power Plant construction, East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) needed approval from the RUS to seek $921 million from Wall Street financiers. Not only did RUS grant this permission but it also said EKPC could pay back its private loans before paying the billions it already owes the federal government. That means if EKPC defaults on its loans or goes belly-up, taxpayers will foot the bill.
plant will force EKPC to seek approval for electric rate increases at a time when many Kentucky families and businesses are already struggling to pay utility bills. This could eventually lead EKPC, which is already financially unstable, to default on its debt obligations. By subordinating its existing mortgage to other financial interests, RUS is placing in jeopardy the billions of taxpayer dollars it has loaned or provided loan guarantees to EKPC, and effectively guaranteeing that our electric rates will substantially increase.
“The fact that EKPC doesn’t even really need this plant, and their finances are so shaky – those should have been a deal-breaker for the RUS,” said KFTC member Barb Bailey on a telephone press conference. “EKPC could meet their energy needs at a lower cost with energy saving programs and renewable energy.”
From the letter: The decision to proceed with financing and building this unnecessary coal
To read the full letter and learn more about the Stop Smith campaign, visit www.kftc. org/stop-smith
Co-op members submit letter to USDA questioning Smith One financing
Other eastern Kentuckians who are not EKPC customers but live with the effects of coal extraction traveled to the hearing to support their fellow KFTC members. “There are cleaner, better ways EKPC can meet its energy needs, such as investing in weatherization, energy efficiency programs, and renewable energy that will actually bring local, long-term jobs,” said KFTC member Erica Urias of Pike County. Also in the room were union laborers who hoped to find work building the Smith power plant. KFTC members presented numbers from a recent Ochs Center study that showed more jobs would be created through energy efficiency and renewable energy programs than through the Smith power plant. The KDAQ will consider the comments submitted during the hearing, as well as those submitted in writing throughout the public comment process. Revisions may be made to the permit; it may be approved as-is or it may be denied. Once the final permit is issued, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will have 45 days to review the permit.
Lydia Courtright, a student at UK, spoke at a press conference before the Division of Air Quality permit hearing. In the meantime, KFTC members are preparing for the next step – the water permitting process through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. To see some of the media coverage of the hearing, visit www.KFTC.org/DAQ.
Madison County KFTC member Carol Davey testified before the Division of Air Quality permit hearing voicing her opposition to the construction of the Smith One power plant in Clark County.
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Restoration of Voting Rights Update
Voting Rights campaign continues to get louder and louder
On March 4, KFTC members and allies filled the halls of Frankfort for a major lobby day to support HB 70 Three hundred people came from across the state and broke into small lobby teams to talk to senators about House Bill 70. In total, members met with more than 20 senators (of only 38), including many key meetings with leaders and committee chairs. Many of the meetings proved to strengthen support from many senators while other meetings helped to move them more towards the issue. Thirteen members met with Sen. Thayer, chair of the Senate State and Local Government Committee. Of the 13 members, 9 were from his district, some of whom were religious leaders, law students and others with powerful personal stories. They made strong arguments rooted in values like fairness, democracy, faith, and crime prevention - and rooted in real life experiences. When Sen. Thayer dismissed HB 70 by claiming the state already has a process to restore rights, Charlie House stepped in to let him know that he’s tried to get his rights back five times
and has never succeeded. Mostly, Sen. Thayer didn’t make a reasoned argument at all, instead simply saying “no” without rationale. He explained to members that this is a Republic, not a Democracy, and he is elected to make decisions for the people using his own best judgment. Furthermore, he told members that as committee chair, he has the ability to decide which bills are allowed to be voted on and he has never allowed anything to come to a vote that he didn’t agree with. The campaign is now strongly focused on just that point - putting pressure on Senator Damon Thayer to allow the bill to come to a vote - and also to put pressure on Senate President David Williams. KFTC members had a meeting in Thayer ’s hometown in Georgetown shortly after the lobby day to focus on what we can do there. The Voting Rights lobby day culminated in a powerful rally and included a lot of people who brought their personal stories about why Kentucky should restore voting rights.
Since the start of the 2010 General Assembly, KFTC’s campaign to restore voting rights to former felons who have served their debt to society has moved into high gear, campaigning for House Bill 70 and building momentum. On February 2, HB 70 passed the House Elections, Constitutional Amendments & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee with a unanimous eight “yes” votes and zero “no” or “abstentions,” a showing of strong bi-partisan support. HB 70 has passed this committee many times, but never this decisively. Many legislators took the opportunity to explain their vote, making strong statements of support. Some of the new “yes” votes also spoke to why they’ve changed their mind. Allies who testified in front of the committee included Janssen Willhoit, former felon spokesperson and KFTC member, with the Lexington Rescue Mission. Shortly after the testimony, HB 70
came up for a full vote on the floor of the House and passed with 83 yes votes (including strong majorities of both Republicans and Democrats) to 16 no votes. Reps. Jesse Crenshaw (D) and Lonnie Napier (R) spoke strongly on the House floor in favor of the bill. “We’re diligently wearing them down until they do the right thing. It seems to be working,” said KFTC member Jan Ewing. Not losing momentum, KFTC and ally organizations held a powerful voting rights strategy meeting on February 27, bringing out 35 people from all over the state, including former felons, longtime voting rights activists and people who are new to the campaign. The focus of the meeting was on building a collective legislative strategy to pass HB 70 and increasing communication and collaboration between ally organizations. With HB 70 voted out of the House and into the Senate, members have
Please take a moment to contact these two key legislators to ask them to allow HB 70 to be heard, plus contact your own senator to help put pressure on Sen. Williams and Sen. Thayer.
Senator David Williams Senate District 16 Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Monroe, Wayne, and Whitley counties Mailing Address PO Box 666 Burkesville KY 42717 Home: (270) 433-7777 Frankfort: (502) 564-3120
Senator Damon Thayer Senate District 17 Grant, Kenton (southern), Owen, and Scott counties Mailing Address 102 Grayson Way Georgetown KY 40324 Home: (859) 621-6956 Frankfort: (502) 564-8100 Ext. 644
Voting Rights campaign update
begun to plan community educational events to help get the word out about HB 70. Events held over the past month have included a voting rights presentation at the University of Kentucky Law School with 80 students attending and a Singing for Democracy Gospel Festival in Louisville, plus many smaller local events, letter-writing days, call-in actions, and presentations. Although these events have raised the pubic awareness, the focus has still been largely on lobbying in Frankfort, concentrating on the 38 members of the Senate. The results of KFTC’s lobbying efforts have been tremendous, with many senators, particularly key Republican senators, supporting HB 70.
At this juncture, the voting rights coalition is sure to have a little more than 60 percent support in the Senate, including nine votes in the Senate State and Local Government Committee where the bill is presently waiting for a vote. That’s two more votes than needed in the committee of 12 people. However, just because HB 70 “has the votes” does not automatically mean that the issue will be approved. State and Local Government Committee Chair Sen. Damon Thayer will still not allow the bill to come up for a vote. The campaign is now focused overwhelmingly on convincing Sen. Thayer and Senate President Sen. David Williams to allow the vote to take place.
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
High Road Update
House Bill 408 sets vision for Kentucky’s energy future Legislation that contains all of the major policy directives that the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance (KySEA) has been developing for the past year was introduced on February 9. Sponsored by Rep. Harry Moberly of Madison County along with Reps. Dennis Horlander, Mary Lou Marzian and Jim Wayne, HB 408 supports a modest commitment to clean energy and energy efficiency. It has several important provisions: • Require Kentucky’s utilities to generate 12.5 percent of their retail sales from renewable sources by the year 2020, up from about 2 percent in 2007; • Ask utilities to develop energy efficiency programs to help customers reduce their electricity use by 10.25 percent over the next decade with a special efficiency focus on low-income households; • Expand incentives for renewable energy production without additional cost to the state budget through a provision called a feed-in tariff. “I’m excited about any policy that helps families save money and energy by becoming more energy efficient,” said Mary Love, KFTC member from Oldham County. “This bill provides incentives that can help everyday Ken-
tuckians improve the energy efficiency of our homes. Lowering our energy use also diminishes the need for expensive new power plants, and leads to cleaner air and water and more healthy living conditions for us all.” “Our organization focuses on providing affordable housing solutions to build better communities and help reduce foreclosures and homelessness,” noted Sherrie Davison of Frontier Housing, a KySEA partner based in Morehead. “Home energy costs in Kentucky currently consume more than 20 percent of annual income for families living at the poverty line, contributing to economic instability and homelessness. The era of cheap electricity is ending, and all Kentucky families need resources, tools and good public policy to make our homes, apartments and manufactured housing more efficient.” “Contracts and jobs continue to go to Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee because the commonwealth lacks up-to-date public policies,” added Matt Partymiller, KFTC member and an owner of Solar Energy Solutions, a company that employs three people in Lexington. “We need things like a renewable portfolio standard and a feed-in tariff just to be competitive with our neighbors and the incentives they offer for renewable energy development.” Feed-in tariffs are guaranteed payments made to people who generate renewable electricity onto the power grid,
Sustainability Symposium at Pine Mountain Settlement School May 14-16, 2010 The Pine Mountain Settlement School and Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) will co-host a Sustainability Symposium designed to bring together specialists, practitioners, educators, and organizers to share their experiences and learn about model projects throughout southeastern Kentucky. The participatory, solutions-oriented, and fun symposium will include hands-on trainings, workshops, woodland hikes, and garden tours with local and regional experts. For more info. and to register, visit www.pinemountainsettlementschool.com or call Randal Pfleger at 606-558-3594.
explained Andy McDonald, director of Kentucky Solar Partnership. “By guaranteeing payments for renewable power under long term contracts, feed-in tariffs create a stable environment that attracts investment and can produce very rapid development of the renewable energy sector, leading to substantial economic development and job creation,” McDonald explained. “Feed-in tariffs enabled Germany to become the world leader in solar energy, and Germany’s renewable energy sector now employs hundreds of thousands of workers.”
“We are thrilled that meaningful clean energy solutions are now on the table,” stated Wallace McMullen, who chairs the Energy Committee of the Sierra Club’s Cumberland Chapter. “This is a golden opportunity for Kentucky. We should make the most of it and move forward to a cleaner, more prosperous, and healthier future for our children and the Commonwealth.” Additional information about the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance and the potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy in Kentucky can be found at www.kysea.org
The Floyd County KFTC Chapter is organizing a day of workshops, information sessions and displays to be centered on sustainable opportunities for the Central Appalachian coalfields. Growing Appalachia - Moving Forward in the Mountains will have two main focuses: sustainable mountain agriculture (SMA) and renewable energy/energy efficiency (RE/EE). Topics include: small-scale agriculture options; crops, methods and marketing that are particularly suited to the Eastern Kentucky landscape; various renewable energy options, feasibility, implementation and scale. Energy efficiency and weatherization will also be covered, since these aspects will be essential for coping with rising energy prices and constrained resources. The event will be from 9 a.m. -5 p.m. on Saturday, April 24 at the Jenny Wiley State Park Conference Center in Prestonsburg. It will be free, open to the public, and lunch will be provided. For more information visit the KFTC web site or contact Brittany Combs, KFTC Floyd County Organizer, at email@example.com or Martin Richards, KFTC Economic Development Organizer, at martin@ kftc.org or 859-986-1277.
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Steering committee discusses New Power Leaders program and KFTC’s 2010 legislative strategy
KFTC’s Steering Committee worked through a packed agenda during their February meeting. They approved the 2010 Program of Work, discussed the budget, brainstormed ideas related to the New Power Leader program, and strategized around KFTC’s legislative agenda. In November, the Steering Committee approved moving forward with the New Power Leader program. In February, the Steering Committee reviewed a draft of a New Power Leader Orientation Guide, which laid out five things New Power Leaders will be asked to do: • Become an informed KFTC leader.
• Become a KFTC sustaining giver by pledging to give $1 to $100 per month according to their ability. • Learn organizing and leadership skills through trainings and materials provided by KFTC. • Lead a cluster of 5-50 KFTC members and help these members stay informed, take action, and remain current in their dues, even becoming pledgers themselves. • Communicate good ideas and problems back to the Steering Committee, chapter and staff. “I’m really excited about this New Power Leader program,” said Dana Beasley Brown of Bowling Green. “I totally support it and just want to figure out how to get the program off the ground.” The Steering Committee set a goal of recruiting 1,000 New Power Leaders over the next five years. This year staff will recruit the first 250 leaders to the program. The committee discussed some of the details about how the program would be structured and what materials and support would be needed to ensure success. Committee members agreed that the beauty of the New Power Leader program is that it will be a lot of people doing a little bit each to advance toward KFTC’s vision rather than massive systems that can get clunky. “What’s being asked of New Power Leaders isn’t really different from what
many of us have already been doing,” noted Matt Heil of Central Kentucky. “It’ll be a cultural shift for KFTC but not huge changes in terms of our infrastructure.” “If we want to get where we want to be, this is how to do it,” remarked Beasley Brown, referring to our goals to get to 25,000 members and be more sustainable within five years. After a special report from Myles and Hollis Maxson on the recent youth meeting with Governor Beshear on coal and energy issues, the committee discussed a series of recommendations from the Land Reform Committee. The Land Reform Committee met in January and discussed the political landscape around coal in general and mountaintop removal specifically. They evaluated KFTC’s campaign goals and strategies in light of this landscape and made two significant recommendations to the Steering Committee. Bev May of Floyd County presented the recommendations. The first recommendation was that KFTC upgrade the legislative goal on mountaintop removal coal mining to be the Stream Saver Bill plus an outright ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. The second recommendation was that KFTC expand its Position on Coal to include a call for the end of the use of strip mining. “We call for an end to all surface mining,” explained May, “because it cannot be economically or environmentally justified.” The Steering Committee voted unanimously to approve both recommendations. May then reported on the Land Reform Committee’s conversation about how to increase KFTC’s voice and impact in Frankfort around coal issues given the fact that most legislators and the governor are acting solely in the interest of coal. For instance, several bills have been filed that prop up the coal industry even more, including ones that establish a Natural Resources Caucus; extend eminent domain power to private companies to transport carbon; and encourage a restriction on the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. “The time is rapidly approaching and may be here already for us to take direct action,” said Jeff Chapman-Crane
of Letcher County. “How long have we been talking to them?” asked Cari Moore of Knott County, referring to state legislators. “And how much longer are we going to have to keep talking before it will do any good? “It very well may take action,” Moore concluded. The committee agreed that KFTC needs to step up the pressure and charged a work team to make a plan for how to proceed and bring it back to the Executive Committee for discussion. In other business, the committee approved the 2010 Program of Work and made a plan for the Executive Committee to finalize the 2010 budget in the coming weeks. In discussing the budget, the committee approved four recommendations made by KFTC’s Finance Committee. These included: 1. Create benchmarks for the major donor campaign and our grassroots fundraising and phase in extra programmatic expansions based on how we’re doing.
The Steering Committee set its schedule for the rest of 2010. Meetings will be April 10, May 15, July 9-10, September 11, and November 5-6. 2. Invest in base building strategies that won’t paint us into a corner financially over the next 2-3 years. 3. Reinstate pensions and salary bumps that were cut in November. 4. If we over-raise in our grassroots fundraising, a priority would be to use the extra grassroots funds to begin to replenish the endowment but that option would be evaluated against other programmatic options that might help us to increase our sustainability.
On February 23, KFTC member Mickey McCoy, a resident of Martin County, discovered that Coldwater Fork, a stream near his home, was running gray and black from a slurry spill at a coal processing facility owned by Massey Energy. These types of spills threaten the health of nearby residents and wildlife populations and are all too frequently a fact of life for people who live near or downstream from coal processing facilities and slurry impoundments. This spill is nowhere near the scale of the Martin County coal sludge flood of 2000, but it is a continuation of an ongoing pattern of clean water violations by Massey Energy despite Massey’s $20 million settlement with the EPA for Clean Water Act violations two years ago.
Kentuckians are “Singing for Democracy” in Jefferson County by Martha Flack
The Jefferson County chapter and its voting rights allies organized a Singing for Democracy event that was held on February 27 at Greater Friendship Baptist Church in Louisville. The event highlighted various singing and spoken word artists from Louisville and Lexington and raised awareness and support for House Bill 70, legislation to restore voting rights to former felons who have served their debt to society. Approximately 80-100 people attended the event. The event opened with a prayer by Pastor Derrick Miles of Greater Friendship Baptist Church and an uplifting performance by Down By The Wayside, a gospel choir organized by Wayside Christian Mission. Mike Barry of People Advocating Recovery and Aileen Bryant of Ladies of Promise were emcees. Rep. Reginald Meeks (Jefferson County), who is a co-sponsor of HB 70, reminded the audience that it is “your government” and we must do whatever we can to make our voices heard. He encouraged people to “acknowledge and celebrate the work” they are doing and to recognize that it may only be the beginning of a long fight to restore equality and justice for those Kentuckians who are now disenfranchised. More than 186,000 Kentuckians currently are denied the right to vote. Many of these individuals are now productive members of their communities, yet they do not have a voice in who represents them or what laws are enacted. HB 70 has had much support in the Kentucky House, where the bill has passed by large margins for the past four years. The bill has been stymied in the Senate State and Local Government Com-
mittee, which is chaired by Sen. Damon Thayer of Georgetown. Sen. Thayer has repeatedly refused to bring the bill to a vote in his committee despite growing support throughout the Senate as well. Singing for Democracy also included performances by Anthony Hamilton, Maria Houghton and Bonnie Blair, all soloists from Lexington, and Sean “Real” Thomas, a former felon and spoken word artist from Louisville. Several organizers spoke of their own redemption and forgiveness through their journeys to recovery, as well as civic engagement. Venita Goodner, a former felon who now works for the Department of Corrections and volunteers for prison ministry, encouraged attendees to “keep the work, keep the faith.” Dona Daubitz Barry, who has been in recovery for 22 years and is the president of Faith Partners for Recovery, talked about getting the churches more involved in the recovery efforts of former felons, including the restoration of their voting rights. The event was energetic and uplifting. Participants also took the time to take action to support HB 70 by signing postcards to be sent to Sen. Thayer and other senators, and by pledging to call senators and to come out to lobby in Frankfort. The Jefferson County Chapter of KFTC wishes to acknowledge its voting rights allies and their help to make this event a success. These allies include Making Connections Network, People Advocating Recovery, The Beacon House, Ladies of Promise, American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, Our Father’s House, Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, and Kentucky Jobs with Justice.
Sean Thomas of Louisville performed at Singing For Democracy.
balancing the scales, March 8, 2010
Calendar of Events March 15
Bake Sale for the Budget at Northern Kentucky University, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. near the student center
Northern Kentucky KFTC meeting, 7 p.m., Boone County Library, Main Branch, Burlington.
Perry County chapter meeting, 6 p.m. in Hazard, email Colleen@ kftc.org for more information
Bowling Green chapter meeting, 6:30 p.m. at Kaleidoscope Office on Durbin Street.
Central Kentucky chapter meeting, 7 p.m. at the Episcopal Diocese Mission House (on the corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and 4th Street) in Lexington.
Rowan County chapter meeting, 6 p.m. at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church on 5th Street in Morehead.
Deep Down film screening, Clifton Community Center in Louisville, 7 p.m. with panel discussion to follow.
Madison County chapter meeting, 7 p.m. at Child Development Lab on Jefferson St., Berea.
Deep Down film screening, Maytown Community Center in Floyd County, 7 p.m. with panel discussion to follow.
Land Reform Committee meeting, 10:30-4:30, in Hazard; email Kevin@kftc.org for more information.
Deep Down film screening, University of Kentucky Student Center, 7 p.m. with panel discussion to follow. Sponsored by the Cumberland Chapter of the Sierra Club.
Kentucky General Assembly recesses, until April 12.
Harlan County chapter meeting, 6 p.m. at Southeast Community College Appalachian Center, Cumberland.
Scott County KFTC meeting, 6:30 p.m., Ed Davis Learning Center, Georgetown.
KFTC Steering Committee meeting
Jefferson County chapter meeting, 6:30 p.m. at the KFTC office in Louisville (901 Franklin Street).
Floyd County chapter meeting, 7 p.m. at St. Martha Catholic Church near Prestonsburg.
Last scheduled day of the 2010 Kentucky General Assembly.
Rowan County chapter meeting, 6 p.m. at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church on 5th Street in Morehead.
Deep Down film screening at Eastern Kentucky University Crabbe Library Auditorium, 7 p.m. Guest appearance by Kentucky author Silas House, panel discussion to follow.