The old adage says, “Time flies when you’re having fun,” and since I came aboard as executive director of KEF in January I’ve found this to be true. Here in the office, we’ve been very busy getting to know each other and continuing the great work the KEF has always done.
Among the highlights of my short time at KEF was my trip to Washington, D.C. with Lane Boldman, our advocacy and outreach coordinator, during the first week of February. We covered a lot of ground in this four-day visit, attending conferences, hearings, meetings, and lobbying around the issues of clean energy and safe chemicals. On February 5-6, we attended “Cutting Carbon: NGO Strategy Meeting on Carbon Pollution Standards for Power Plants,” which was hosted by the Sierra Club and included representatives of environmental organizations around the country. Also on the 6th, I was present at the American Sustainable Business Council Roundtable on Energy, Environment and Green Chemicals. This meeting focused on a business approach to attaining safe chemicals and products, and included representatives from the White House, EPA, the Department of Energy, and the business community, including from the companies Method and Seventh Generation. On February 7th, Lane did KEF proud by offering superb testimony at an EPA hearing on carbon pollution standards for new power plants.
While we were in DC, we also made time to meet with staffers and members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation on the issue of TSCA reform, which has gained some traction recently on Capitol Hill. The Senate is currently considering the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, which KEF—and the majority of the environmental and public health community—opposes as a toothless bill that would actually be a step backwards. In recent weeks, there has been some movement in the House, where we are hearing that a bill will soon be introduced.
As luck would have it, the House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy held a hearing on the issue while we were in DC, giving us the perfect opportunity to lobby our Members of Congress. We met with Senator McConnell and Representative Barr, as well as staffers from their offices and representatives of Representatives Whitfield and Yarmuth. These were productive conversations in which we asked them to oppose any legislation that doesn’t offer real reforms, including protecting women, children and vulnerable communities, such as Rubbertown in Louisville; allowing the EPA to regulate the worst chemicals; permitting states to pass their own laws on toxic chemicals; and moving the marketplace towards safer chemicals.
Deborah Payne, KEF's health coordinator, has been hard at work on the Health Impact Assessment for the Paducah area, which is now in the home stretch. She is powering through her final set of tasks and is looking forward to seeing the project’s completion.
Policy & Communications Consultant Jason Howard has been constructing our new communications plan and policy that we will be implementing the beginning of March. He has also been managing KEF’s social media presence, keeping up with news of toxic reform, drafting and sending out press releases, and editing op-eds.
Craig Williams, director of KEF's Chemical Weapons Working Group, continues to do us proud both in Kentucky and on the international scene, including publishing an op-ed in the Lexington Herald-Leader and co-signing a letter to Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Defense Hagel, both on the issue of Syrian chemical weapons disposal.
Thanks to everyone who has reached out to offer their support during this transition. I’m looking forward to the work we will do together—and to spring, which I hope will arrive very, very soon.