Opportunities and ideas for Appalachian Transition
Today, right now, we have the opportunity to begin a just economic transition in Appalachia and across Kentucky. We can create good jobs and grow income and wealth in our communities. Across our region, many people are already demonstrating the promise and potential of clean energy, sustainable forestry and agriculture, and tourism.
To make the most of this moment, we need to set aside fear and cynicism. It's time to focus on the kind of economy and communities we want. KFTC members often describe our vision with two words: New Power. New Power means putting new economic power, new clean energy power, and new political power in the hands of more people and working together for a brighter future.
1. Sectors and Strategies
There is no silver bullet that will result in thousands of new, good paying new jobs in Appalachia. But that’s no reason to sit on our hands. Citizens and community leaders across the region are moving forward with a variety of ideas in areas like:
- Entrepreneurship and small business development
- Renewable energy production
- Energy efficient homes, farms and businesses
- Sustainable agriculture
- Sustainable forestry and wood products
- Environmental restoration
- Health and community services
- Education and job training
2. Examples and Ideas
On-the-ground projects are already producing benefits for families, schools, businesses and communities in our region. KFTC collaborates with several regional organizations, including Appalshop and MACED, to collect and share videos, audio reports and written profiles about local success stories. Examples can be found here:
You'll also find specific stories and examples described at these links:
A just transition for Appalachia will take leadership, innovative policies, and sustained investment from local, state and national levels. The policies below would be a good place to start!
Federal funding for home weatherization:
Kentucky Coal Severance Tax Reform:
Kentucky’s coal severance, established in 1972, is based on the understanding that coal is a finite resource. A tax of 4.5% on the value of extracted coal was intended to provide funds to invest in economic diversification in the coalfields. However, by 1992, less than 8% of those funds had been invested back into Kentucky’s coal producing counties. Today there is growing concern about how the funds should be spent and how coal producing counties will manage as coal production declines. A proposal floated by the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development recommends setting aside a portion of annual severance tax revenues to create a “permanent fund” for long term investment in local economic development. Similar funds have been created in Wyoming, Alaska and Montanta.
Kentucky Clean Energy Opportunity Act:
In 2010 the Clean Energy Opportunity Act was introduced in the Kentucky General Assembly. This bill would require utility companies in Kentucky to get an increasing share of their energy from efficiency programs and renewable sources over the next ten years. Policies similar to this have been adopted in 29 states and are proven drivers of jobs in the clean energy sector. A recent study calculated that the bill would create 28,000 new jobs in our state over the next ten years. Average electric bills would be 8-10% lower than under a do-nothing scenario.
Follow these links to learn more:
This short video, produced by the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, features many individuals and groups who are working for a just economic transition for Appalachia.
KFTC Environmental Justice Analysis - Preliminary Report and Documentation
Draft framework for the Empower Kentucky Plan, 2016
Low Income Solar Policy Guide
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