Chapter: Harlan County

In Harlan County and eastern Kentucky, we have a rich culture, natural beauty, valuable resources such as mountains, forests and water, and a history worth preserving. We are a chapter of KFTC because we believe that these assets and characteristics define who we are, and in preserving and protecting them we are defending a way of life and leaving what is most special about this place for future generations.

Harlan County residents helped create KFTC, and we are one of its earliest chapters. Our local chapter was built on the dedication and struggles of many who came before us, and since 1981 we’ve continued their efforts. Through the years, we have been involved in successful campaigns to save the upper elevations of Black Mountain (Kentucky’s highest peak) from strip mining and logging, help communities win water lines and a new bridge, and so much more.

Today we are working to build new power in the mountains to protect the water and a way of life threatened by destructive mining methods, while  supporting KFTC’s broader efforts to make coal mines safer for miners, fully fund schools and keep college affordable, bring clean energy jobs to this area and expand voting rights.

Recent Activities

Shining a light on Benham Power

Lifting our voices from Home during the General Assembly

It’s a long drive from eastern Kentucky to Frankfort; a full day’s work, to say the least. That’s why members of the Letcher County Chapter of KFTC are getting creative to lift their voices around important issues this Legislative Session. 

The chapter is wrapping up a solid week of terrific work around Kentucky’s General Assembly, right here at home. Last Wednesday, several members hosted a Mountain Talk program on local community radio station WMMT 88.7 FM. The program’s theme of Voting Rights in Kentucky followed up on a recent radio news piece covering a lobby day and rally at the State Capitol in Frankfort organized by the Kentucky Voting Rights Coalition. The Mountain Talk featured clips from that rally as well as commentary from former felon Kristi Kendall in Floyd County,WMMT Mtn Talk on HB 70 retired judge Jim Bowling in Bell County, and the father of a former felon/ coal miner, Carl Shoupe in Harlan County.  

Besides the too often told story of firsthand disenfranchisement of themselves or family members, Judge Bowling gave powerful testimony of his experience sitting on the bench, forced to hand down harsh felony convictions for offenses that once were misdemeanors.

KFTC members respond to Promise Zone designation

KFTC members welcomed today’s announcement by President Barack Obama designating eight counties in eastern Kentucky as a "Promise Zone."

The designation will give the counties priority in applying for federal funding for programs that increase job training, access to affordable housing, educational opportunities, and more.



“The idea of the Promise Zone is encouraging,” said Elizabeth Sanders, a KFTC member from Letcher County, one of the Promise Zone counties. “We have a vision for a future for eastern Kentucky and know we have a lot of promise here in the mountains. If the resources from the federal government through the Promise Zone will coordinate with things like the SOAR Initiative and other existing and future programs, we may begin to see some steps toward the change the people of eastern Kentucky have been ready for and working toward.”


Groups challenge EPA decision allowing Kentucky officials to gut clean water protection

Spinal deformities in fish resulting from selenium exposure. Photo: Wake Forest University.

On Friday, community and environmental groups took legal action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a recent decision allowing Kentucky to weaken its water quality standards for selenium, a pollutant common to mountaintop removal coal mines.

"KFTC and our allies have worked for years to make EPA fully aware of the systemic failures of Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet to protect our commonwealth’s people, waters and environment,” said Doug Doerrfeld, a member of KFTC’s litigation team. “In light of this history it is disgraceful that EPA would approve a weakened selenium standard that will not only leave aquatic life at risk but will make citizen enforcement all but impossible."

KFTC members speak up for just transition at SOAR Summit

The conversation about economic transition in eastern Kentucky and Appalachia got a big boost on Monday as more than 1,500 people gathered in Pikeville for the SOAR Summit. Dozens of KFTC members participated, sounding the drumbeat for a just transition in the mountains and distributing ideas and literature with specific suggestions on the principles, process and policies that should guide that transition.

SOAR stands for Shaping Our Appalachian Region, a regional planning process announced in October by Governor Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers. The summit on December 9 in Pikeville was the first step in that process.

But KFTC members have been talking about a just transition for years.

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Chapter Feature:

DSC_0931"Many of us are working to create a better future for our children and grandchildren - and we've got lots of possibilities and real ideas about how to do that. We've got a bright future if we want it."

- Carl Shoupe, Benham, KY

 

Visions from Black Mountain coverVisions from Black Mountain

Residents of Benham, Lynch and Cumberland share their visions for the unique Tri-Cities area.

Regular Meetings:

We meet every other even month on the second Thursday at 6 p.m. We move our meeting locations around the county. Check the calendar!

Chapter Organizer:

Harlan, KY 40831
606-632-0051