Op-ed written by Deborah Payne for the Daily Yonder, find the original here.
In both Appalachia and Ecuador, mineral extraction threatens the health and safety of residents. The question now is "can the people in harm's way work with the one potentially doing the harm to figure out solutions"?
A lot has happened in the 50 years since Lyndon Johnson brought national attention to rural poverty in Eastern Kentucky. But some things haven't changed.
Folks still don’t drink the water.
Commentary written by Deborah Payne for the Courier-Journal, find the original version here.
Ask any parent of an asthmatic child waiting for treatment in an emergency room whether or not they've worried about the expense and they will likely tell you it's a hit to the family budget. With as many as 1 in 7 Kentucky kids suffering from asthma, our citizens spend millions of dollars annually to treat the condition, largely triggered by poor air quality.
Op-ed written by Deborah Payne for the Lexington Herald-Leader, find original version here.
Ask any parent of an asthmatic child waiting for treatment in an emergency room whether or not they've worried about the expense, and they will likely tell you it's a hit to the family budget.
With as many as 1 in 7 Kentucky kids suffering from asthma, our citizens spend millions of dollars annually to treat the condition, largely triggered by poor air quality.
Original story by Bill Estep for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Find the original article here.
Coal interests and Republican politicians in Kentucky cheered Monday's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that federal environmental regulators failed to properly consider the costs of complying with a rule to cut mercury and other pollutants from power plants.
Environmentalists, however, decried the decision as a setback for public health.
Op-ed written by KEF's Deborah Payne, as an op-ed for the Courier Journal. Find the original article here.
In a recent opinion editorial, Sen. Mitch McConnell shared his thoughts on how to comply with the EPA's plan to protect our commonwealth from a shifting climate: Don't do anything. Don't make a plan for the future. And by all means, don't pay attention to that pesky tsunami of challenges that climate change will inevitably leave on our front doorstep. How forward thinking.
Turning our back on this tsunami, however, will not change the new norm of increased drought and food insecurity, more intense and damaging storms, and hotter, riskier summers. The reality is, while McConnell is encouraging us to drag our heels, there's really no sense in wearing out a perfectly good pair of shoes.
Written by KEF Outreach Coordinator Shelly Biesel as an op-editorial for the Courier-Journal, find the original version here.
Perhaps the most accurate statement regarding the 2015 Government Spending Bill came from Sen. John McCain, who was quoted saying "it's jammed full of sh--." The "cromnibus" bill appropriates $1.01 trillion, and will keep most government offices in operation through September. Though House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers called the bill "a win for Kentucky," it depends on how you look at it. Personally, the bill makes me uneasy. Here's why:
Written by KEF Health Coordinator Deborah Payne as an op-ed for the Lexington Herald-Leader; find the original op-ed here.
It was Christmas time in 2008 when the wall of a coal combustion waste impoundment pond collapsed, inundating Kingston, Tenn., with over 1 billion gallons of toxic sludge.
Last month, almost six years later, the Environmental Protection Agency released a long-awaited rule on the classification and management of coal combustion waste, or coal ash, the byproduct that results when coal is burned to produce electricity.
The development of the rule involved an extended series of public hearings, a comment period and then a long wait — over two years — to hear how new federal policies would impact the way we manage coal ash. Health advocates hoped for better storage practices, a classification as a toxic waste and federal oversight.
And the verdict is in: Industry will remain in charge of its own practices, which means, without much oversight things may roll on with "business as usual."
Article written by Gregory D. Squires and John Gilderbloom for the National Housing Institute's Rooftop Blog. Access the original version here.
How do you win an election in any red Southern state? If you are running as a senator the conventional wisdom is you condemn government as an enemy of working families rather than an institution for safeguarding health, safety and welfare of citizens. Senate candidates in Kentucky have run thousands of commercials attacking, “Obama’s war on coal” claiming it kills jobs and our “way of life.” When will the news media put these claims on a truth meter? Or, as Steven Colbert would say, what is their level of “truthiness?”
Generally, decision-making around power plants is impacted by many factors. New environmental policies, like stricter regulations for air, water and waste, are reducing the viability of older coal plants. At the same time, energy portfolios are rapidly shifting away from coal to other generation resources such as natural gas, renewable energy, and investments in energy efficiency. Most utility decisions are driven by economics and policies, while little emphasis is placed on one of the most basic impacts on the community: public health.
In order to determine the public health impacts of operating or retiring an older coal plant, KEF conducted a Health Impacts Assessment (HIA) around TVA’s Shawnee plant. The Shawnee HIA identifies the myriad of public health impacts that would arise if TVA upgrades Shawnee with modern pollution controls or if TVA retires the entire Shawnee coal plant. These impacts range from physical health impacts to economic impacts that affect a community’s access to health care and jobs that provide health insurance. Industrial jobs have been a mainstay in western Kentucky and retiring Shawnee could potentially put a strain on area workers who have depended on the work for maintaining income for food and housing. At the same time, coal power plant emissions have contributed to the region’s poor air and water quality, potentially affecting increased rates of asthma and cardiac health concerns, and compromising water resources that threaten public health and aquatic ecosystems. Retrofitting the plant would extend the life of the aging facility but the question continues to remain: at what expense?
HIAs can be useful for many different areas of decision-making. As Paducah and McCracken County residents and leaders consider next steps around jobs and industry, the HIA will be an important tool for helping them think about the future. HIAs are a great way to use health data in a real life setting—including issues such as economics, jobs, education and healthcare—in a manner that ensures public health is considered in policy development. The HIA process, which strongly relied on the participation and leadership of community members, is intended to support TVA as well as local leaders make health-informed choices when it comes to the future of their power plants. As for shifts in industrial options, community and economic development leaders can work to ensure that new industries invited into the area, follow standard health and safety guidelines and provide sufficient wages for the workers. Making health a priority is good for business and good for the community.
TVA is accepting comments and suggestions from the public as it works to shape its 20 year energy plan, known as the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), as well as for the specific decision around retrofit or retirement scenarios of two units at the plant. TVA is scheduled to release a draft IRP in the first part of 2015. They also expect to release a draft environmental assessment for public comment in mid-December on the decisions for Shawnee Units 1 and 4. Please stay tuned to learn more about how you can weigh in on the future of the Shawnee coal plant and TVA’s energy future!
See more at: http://blog.cleanenergy.org/2014/11/20/kentucky-group-studies-health-effects-of-aging-tva-coal-plant/#more-51773
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