Release Date: 
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Press Contact: 
Steve Wilkins
KFTC Member
859-314-6584

Trump’s climate denials take away opportunities for jobs and better health
A just transition to a clean energy economy in Kentucky is possible

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.”

“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.

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Expanded quotes from KFTC members regarding just transition, health, climate and President Trump’s executive actions

“I’m concerned about Trump’s actions to rollback climate policies because of my children. His announcements threaten their future. 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.

I’m also concerned about ways these issues are affecting my neighbors across Kentucky, including mothers whose children who can’t play outdoors because of air pollution and asthma. I’m concerned about mothers around the world whose children are sick or dying right now because of conditions related to climate change.

I was in Paris during the negotiations of the Paris Climate Accord. I met women from across the globe who talked about how they are connected to the land from the moment they wake up, to the moment they lay down at night. They spend each day collecting firewood, food, and water to sustain their families. But for too many people around the world, climate change has made where they live unlivable. It’s is not a future thing that might happen. It’s happening right now.

The people who have worked in the eastern and western Kentucky coalfields feel a strong sense of pride, and they deserve to. For decades, their labor and sacrifice provided energy for our country. Now, as our energy system shifts, they deserve for our country to invest in them so they can continue to lead and work in the next economy. Kentucky’s miners should be trained for jobs in energy efficiency and jobs in wind and solar industries. Our state and federal government should prioritize investments and job creation in their communities. Let’s focus on creating jobs in the growing clean energy economy, the kind of jobs that allow people to come home at the end of the day with a sense of pride and good wages.

When you lose a job through no fault of your own and there are shifts in the economy, that is scary. That’s a familiar fear. It’s the kind of life I grew up with. Despite my parents’ hard work, there were many times we didn’t know how we would keep food on the table. There are good reasons why so many folks are scared and are looking for answers. But this doesn’t have to be an us vs. them story. We can all be part of the same story.

The Clean Power Plan is not the reason miners in Kentucky lost their jobs, and reversing this rule will not bring those jobs back. 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.”

Dana Beasley Brown, former KFTC chairperson, Bowling Green

 

“I’m stunned that any administration would disrupt 50 years of bipartisan efforts to improve the air we breathe and the water we drink. 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. Companies focus on their own short-term profits. We need agencies like the EPA to care for our resources in the long term, to make sure that our children’s children have a livable planet.”

Steve Wilkins, KFTC member, Berea

 

“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. It's this motivation that made spending hours educating ourselves and digging into how to make this vision reality worthwhile. I am a better Kentuckian for having participated in the effort to shape a people’s energy plan. It grew my mind and heart, along with growing an awesome Empower Kentucky plan!”

Nancy Reinhart, KFTC member, Shelbyville

 

“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. Members of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth have been working to create a people’s energy plan to show that it is possible to create jobs while reducing pollution. Our plan, which will be released in the next couple 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.”

Sharon Murphy, KFTC member, Lexington

 

“The Trump administration's actions regarding the EPA and climate deny a verifiable, scientific truth – that the Earth is warming at an alarming rate because of the actions of human beings. Not only does he deny the truth, his administration is also staging a witch hunt that targets employees at EPA, NOAA, DOE, and elsewhere whose work involves climate. We are in an unprecedented moment, one that requires greater collaboration and commitments to change, all on a vastly truncated timeline. Unfortunately, the smug indifference and ignorance of our elected officials are taking us in the completely opposite direction.”

Chris Porter, KFTC member, Lexington

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth is a grassroots social justice organization with more than 11,000 members and 14 chapters statewide. When the EPA announced the Clean Power Power Plan in August 2015, KFTC members launched an ambitious project to develop a state energy plan for Kentucky that creates more jobs, reduces harmful pollution and supports a just transition for affected workers and communities. The group held community conversations in all six congressional districts and engaged more than 1,200 people from Pikeville to Paducah in shaping the plan that will be released in a few weeks.

KFTC is organizing several buses to participate in the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. on April 29. KFTC members are engaged in many local efforts to promote clean energy solutions; pass the RECLAIM Act and Miners’ Protection Act in Congress; encourage public comments on important utility cases before the Public Service Commission; and resist local, state or federal policies that endanger our health and climate.