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ORSANCO Makes Standards Voluntary

Posted by: Robin Gee and Maria Truitt on June 17, 2019

On June 6th, the current standards set by the Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) for monitoring water quality in the Ohio River will become voluntary. Only two of the commissioners representing eight member states and the federal government voted against the measure. (You can watch the meeting here and here).

The reasoning behind the change, according to commissioners, was the minimal number of staff members and the overwhelming amount of work pouring in. Some felt the current standards overlap with state and federal environmental protection agency rules.

However, it was pointed out by many residents of these member states that not all of ORSANCO’s standards are covered by other agencies and, in fact, many environmental regulations are being rolled back by the Trump administration. For example, ORSANCO monitors more than 180 toxins and pollutants not covered by state or EPA regulations.

States along the Ohio River must work in coalition to ensure the health of all who live along its banks. If one or two states ignore pollution controls, it can cause harm to all who live down river.

Activists from both Kentucky and Ohio arrived at the Radisson Hotel Riverfront the morning of June 6th to oppose the change. About a dozen spoke out at the hearing to add to the abundance of online comments received. The majority of people commenting at the hearing strongly opposed the change.

More regulations, not less, are needed at a time when the EPA and state agencies are being deregulated, they said. The Sierra Club and others pointed to the additional need for numeric standards to regulate nutrient pollutants, such as nitrogen and phosphorus.

Also of concern were proposed fracking water holding facilities and plants designed to use fracking byproducts to manufacture plastics in and around the river in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. According to Scientific American, tiny particles of plastic, known as microplastics, are showing up in fish and even in beer that uses water from polluted sources. These structures are already being built and now with voluntary regulations it will continue at an even faster rate.

Many also spoke on behalf of their children and grandchildren who will be most impacted by these changes and how they are fighting to ensure a better future for them and generations to come.

Cheryl Jon-Cox who spoke on behalf of the Sierra Club stated:

"The Ohio chapter has 30,000 members and over 100,000 supporters...and we are all unified in our message that mandatory standards must remain in place across the basin in order to protect the five million people who rely on the Ohio River for drinking water."

Joshua, a Kentucky teacher, not only pleaded with commissioners to keep regulations mandatory but also said it’s important to improve on the guidelines already set:

"You are not only necessary, but you need to improve your role...We have been in violation of the Clean Water Act, in specific our sewer district...we have a combined sewer overflow system, meaning every time it rains the gear in our water treatment is overflowed so all of our raw sewage is going into the Ohio River...It used to be 14 million gallons a year, now it's eight so it has improved but you are highly necessary I assure you."

Doug Conroe, one of the two ORSANCO commissioners who voted against the proposal, made the following statement:

I see less and less in terms of environmental, governmental proactivity," he said. "I see status quo. I see sincere and caring environmental officials who are hamstrung by fiscal cutbacks and staff reductions, along with facing heavy pressures from the regulated community to lighten up... I believe having meaningful, river-wide required standards is an important tool to include in our toolbox." 

ORSANCO now must set new policies and procedures by their October meeting in Virginia. The meeting is set for October 8th through 10th.

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Northern Kentucky celebrates 10th Annual Pride!

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on June 13, 2019

This year Northern Kentucky as a community celebrated the 10th Annual Pride!

NKY Celebrates Pride!

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on June 4, 2019

Northern Kentucky members helped kick off Pride celebrations in May at the unveiling of the 'Y'all Means All' beer from Bircus Burewery, which benefits

Scott County residents stand against landfill

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on June 4, 2019

Last night hundreds of residents came out to Scott County High School, filling up one side of the gym. Residents came to speak about proposed changes to the Scott County Waste Management Plan. The residents in Scott County have been fighting an expansion of the landfill, and the Scott County Fiscal Court is now considering changes to the plan to reduce future waste stored there.

Resident after resident mentioned the impact the existing landfill has had on day-to-day lives – air quality concerns, breathing concerns, dangerous traffic conditions, and repeated offenses by the landfill regarding environmental violations. As the county continues to grow, and waste from other communities is shipped in, the current situation cannot remain the same.

National Popular Vote: the majority should decide

Posted by: Virginia Meagher on May 23, 2019

For most of us, the night of Nov. 8, 2016 will be seared into our memory forever. Donald Trump had won the presidency.  

2019 Primary Election by the numbers

Posted by: KFTC Staff on May 22, 2019

2019 Primary Canvass This is good. This is real good.

Kentucky needs a Democracy. And because of that, KFTC is setting increasingly bold goals in building our electoral strength to get more people registered, informed about candidate stances, voting, to build support around issues we care about, support candidates who's stances align with ours, and to train new candidates.

KFTC members leaned into this primary election cycle more heavily than any other, calling voters and generally getting the word out.  It made a big impact.

Here are a few numbers of what you and the rest of the KFTC members achieved this election through KFTC and the New Power PAC:

  • Calls to voters made - 12,151
  • Voter conversation by phone - 2,015
  • Voicemail messages left - 3,805
  • Voters texted - 16,413
  • Voters registered - 313
  • Supporters IDed - 1,163 (through petition signatures, etc)
  • KentuckyElection.org Visits – 46,900 (about 2.5 times as many as last primary!)Covington Easter Egg 4
  • Gubernatorial candidates responding to our issue stance survey – 7 (of 8)
  • Voter Guides distributed - 17,850 (including 1,000 in Spanish)
  • Other lit pieces printed- 20,447
  • Total ad views online – 291,675

Election Day is tomorrow! www.KentuckyElection.org

Posted by: KFTC Staff on May 20, 2019

NKY Bike Parade getting startedTomorrow – Tuesday, May 21 – is Election Day, and we want to make sure KFTC members and our friends are out voting and making a difference together!

To learn about who's on your ballot, where they stand on issues, find your voting location, and much more, visit KentuckyElection.org

Also, please take a moment to remind your friends to vote, share KentuckyElection.org on social media, or even volunteer by contacting your local KFTC organizer.

Polls are open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Take a moment to plan out when you’re voting tomorrow!

Kentucky solar movement continues to grow despite setback in legislature

Posted by: Andy McDonald, Earth Tools Inc. on May 15, 2019

The Solar Celebration at West 6th Farm on April 28 near Frankfort was a bittersweet event.

Unpacking the electricity rate increases for LG&E and KU

Posted by: Carrie Ray, Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) on May 15, 2019

After rate hikes in 2015 and 2017, Louisville Gas & Electric (LG&E) and Kentucky Utilities (KU) hit their customers with another rate hike a few weeks ago.

Raise your voice for a fair and equitable Louisville budget

Posted by: KFTC Staff on May 14, 2019

No matter your zip code, we all want whole, thriving communities. Governor Bevin’s recent changes to Kentucky’s pension system have created budget shortfalls in communities across the commonwealth, including here in Louisville. This month the Louisville Metro Council needs to hear from you about what a fair and equitable budget could look like in the midst of these massive cuts.

Metro Council is hosting two more public hearings where you can attend and speak about your vision for our city budget on Thursday, May 16 and Monday, May 20 at 6 p.m. at City Hall (601 West Jefferson Street).

You can join KFTC members across the Jefferson County chapter in raising your voice for a fair and equitable budget by attending and/or speaking at a hearing, calling your Metro councilperson, writing a letter to the editor, and sharing with your friends and family.

Below are the Jefferson County KFTC Economic Justice Team's views on local progressive taxation, criminal justice reform, and tax increment financing. You can use these talking points when contacting your Metro Councilperson, writing a letter to the editor, or speaking at an upcoming public hearing.

Kentuckians are ready for a Just Transition and Green New Deal

Posted by: KFTC Staff on May 13, 2019

An enthusiastic and diverse crowd turned out on May 11 at an event in Frankfort in support of a Just Transition to a clean energy economy and a Green New Deal for workers and communities. 

Rep. Attica Scott and Cassia Herron

The main event, a stop on a eight-city tour organized by the Sunrise Movement, was planned in partnership with KFTC and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 32BJ. The event featured State Rep. Attica Scott, KFTC members Kevin Short, Cassia Herron and Scott Shoupe, Sunrise Louisville Hub member Jenny Bencomo Suarez, Sunrise Executive Director Varshini Prakash, Erin Bridges, who plays a leading role in the Sunrise Louisville Hub and on the national Sunrise Steering Committee; and music by Appalatin.

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