Trump’s climate denials take away opportunities for jobs and better health in Kentucky

The opportunity Kentuckians have to transition to a clean energy economy is being thwarted by President Trump’s abandonment of U.S. climate commitments to stop harmful pollution, Kentuckians across the state are pointing out.

“I’m stunned that any administration would disrupt 50 years of bipartisan efforts to improve the air we breathe and the water we drink,” said Steve Wilkins of Berea, a member of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth. “How easy it is to forget days when people died from chemical hazes and when rivers burst into flames because our companies used our air and water as their dumping grounds.”

In a sweeping order Tuesday, Trump initiated a process to reverse EPA's Clean Power Plan, rescinded six executive orders signed by President Obama to curb carbon pollution and address the climate crisis and removed a moratorium on coal mining on federal lands, and among other actions that encourage the burning of deadly fossil fuels.

“I’m concerned about Trump’s actions to rollback climate policies because of my children. His announcements threaten their future,” pointed out Dana Beasley Brown of Bowling Green, KFTC’s immediate past chairperson. “We have the time right now to change our course of action and give our kids the best chance to thrive. But we also know the grave risks our children face if instead we do nothing to address climate change.”

Trump’s action today to begin the process of abandoning U.S. climate policies and commitments are actions that – if carried through – put Kentucky’s health, economy and environment at grave risk while doing nothing to support workers or build a healthier, sustainable economy in communities affected by the decline of coal jobs.

The Trump administration's hostility to responsible climate policy throws water on the booming clean energy economy, and the potential for jobs in Kentucky. A KFTC “people’s energy plan” that will be released in April identifies steps Kentucky can take, with or without the Clean Power Plan, to move towards a clean energy economy while producing better results in terms of jobs, health and average electric bills than the fossil fuel-dependent business-as-usual case.

The Empower Kentucky Plan was developed by KFTC members over 18 months with extensive public input. The report shows it is entirely possible to invest in a just transition for workers and reduce average bills while reducing CO2 pollution from Kentucky's power sector by more than what's required under the Clean Power Plan.

“The Clean Power Plan is not the reason miners in Kentucky lost their jobs, and reversing this rule will not bring those jobs back,” said Beasley Brown. “As Kentuckians, we have to work for the kinds of solutions we know can provide good jobs, allow people to stay and live in their communities, take care of their families, and not have to make the choice between being healthy and having a good job.”

“Here in Kentucky, we’ve got an opportunity to create new jobs in energy efficiency and renewable energy, two of the fastest growing parts of the U.S. economy,” said Lexington KFTC member Sharon Murphy. “Our plan, which will be released in the next few weeks, creates more jobs than just doing business as usual over the next 15 years. And when we invest in solutions that are better for health, better for jobs, better for ratepayers, and better for our climate. Everybody wins.”

“We are citizens, interested in our own future and the health and happiness of all Kentuckians. We believe that having a vision for a clean energy future and just transition will expand the conversation about what is possible in Kentucky in positive, powerful ways,” added Nancy Reinhart, a KFTC member in Shelbyville.