Our health as Kentuckians is worth protecting!

Sean Hardy is a member of the Jefferson County Chapter of KFTC's Air Quality Team. The following is the speech Sean gave at the 10th Annual I Love Mountains Day rally at the State Capitol in Frankfort. To learn more about the chapter's Air Quality Team click here or contact our Jefferson County chapter organizer Alicia Hurle at alicia@kftc.org or 502-589-3188. 

Hello, my name is Sean Hardy and I have been a proud KFTC member for the last 2 years. I also am a native of West Louisville, Kentucky. The West Louisville neighborhood is one that has provided both economic empowerment and home ownership to many African Americans throughout the years.

It is also home to a conglomeration of chemical plants aptly named “Rubbertown” – referencing its WWII ties as a rubber manufacturing company.

Since that time, these chemical plants are now home to several other chemical manufacturing plants, manufacturing everything from chemical adhesives to paint. It is also the home of the Jefferson County sewer plant. And we’re just one neighborhood away from the Cane Run coal fired power plant. Needless to say, all of the polluting industries in this area negatively impact the air quality of Jefferson County, accounting for 42% of our city’s total air emissions and causing increased instances of asthma in children and various types of cancer in older adults. 

You may ask why this information is important?? 

It’s important because Our Health as Kentuckians is Worth Protecting!

For the last year, the Jefferson County chapter along with members of the community and other environmental justice organizations formed an air quality coalition to brainstorm on how to build community power in the Rubbertown area through education and civic engagement with the Air Pollution Control District. We have canvassed the neighborhood and held town-hall style forums to educate residents on the impacts of the air quality and how their voices can be heard. We have also been working with city officials to create an effective air quality reporting procedure. Currently we are hoping to get an EPA grant that allows us to hire a staff person to organize specifically around the issue of air quality.

We believe, through education, empowerment and letting our voices be heard, we can let our city officials and legislators know that our health is worth protecting.

As we move forward, we move in solidarity with those in Eastern Kentucky who face strip mining, mountaintop removal, and the toxic runoff created thereof. We stand in solidarity with those who live where coal is burned and coal ash waste is stored. We demand stronger protections for the health and safety of mine workers, plant workers, AND the communities nearby. Together we stand in solidarity demanding that our state legislators hear our voices, whether it is around the issues of coal, water, air, or climate.

Our very well-being is at stake. And our health is worth protecting!!