RICHMOND, KY— Birthday parties are an opportunity to celebrate, commemorate and come together,
but can they also be a time for protest? This year marks 75 years since the construction of the
Tennessee Gas Pipeline, the site of a proposed re-purposing project by Kinder Morgan which would
facilitate the transportation of hazardous natural gas liquids (NGLs) through Kentucky. In order to
highlight the risks of this project, students with the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition (KSEC)
hosted a 75th birthday party for the pipeline this past Sunday at Lake Reba Park in Richmond, KY. The
event featured food, games, a pipeline-themed cake and a mock pipeline art installation equipped with
mock explosion and spill.
The birthday party theme of the event emphasizes one of the key dangers of the project: the old age of
the pipeline that will be re-purposed. “It’s shortsighted and dangerous,” said KSEC member and event
organizer Emma Anderson. “How can you expect a pipeline to maintain its integrity with subpar upkeep
for 75 years?” Morehead State University student and KSEC member Sarah Buschman said the event
was a “fun way to draw attention to the dangers of using a poor quality and 75 year old pipeline.”
The Tennessee Gas Pipeline, which previously carried methane, but would be re-purposed to carry
things like ethane, butane and pentane, experienced more than 100 “significant failures” between 2006
and 2017. Between the old age of the pipeline, Kentucky’s notorious sinkhole-filled geology, and the fact
that these new materials must be transported at higher pressures and are more explosive, there is grave
potential for more frequent and dangerous leaks, spills and explosions. These potential threats to the
health and safety of Kentucky’s land, air, water and people are why students and community members
felt it was important to come together to learn about the pipeline, connect with one another and
discuss next steps in preventing this dangerous project.
KSEC’s Gas and Pipelines Working Group, made up of students from across Kentucky, has been fighting
this pipeline project for over a year and a half, hosting more than a half dozen “teach-ins” at colleges
across the state to educate students and the community about the risks of this project. The birthday
party event included a “teach-in” style training about the project and “goodie bags” with resources to
help attendees educate others about the project. It was also an opportunity for these students to voice
their opinions and work for a better future in Kentucky. Buschman said the event was “a great
opportunity to… [let] our voice be heard!”
When: Media Contact:
Saturday, August 4th at 2pm Grace Engelman
Fancy Farm, Kentucky firstname.lastname@example.org
FANCY FARM--- Young Kentuckians delivered speeches calling for an end to corporate-controlled politics at Saturday’s 137th Fancy Farm Picnic, Kentucky’s most raucous political event. The Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition erected a ‘people’s stage’ adjacent to the main stage to present their speeches and demand new leadership that puts public interest over corporate profit. With just 95 days until the 2018 general elections, the youth say they’re efforts are part of a national youth movement to replace establishment politicians this November. However, within just thirty minutes of the stage being set up, the students were told to stop speaking by law enforcement.
KSEC members drew attention to the prevalence of corporate politics with “puppeticians,” pocket-sized figures in the likeness of Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, and Gov. Matt Bevin. duPont Manual student Emma Stuber says, “Politicians live in the pocket of anything that can give them money. If they were in my pocket, they would put people over profits.”
University of Louisville freshman and KSEC member Grace Engelman was amongst those who spoke. “Our politicians funnel millions of dollars to the dying coal industry, while Kentucky’s environment, infrastructure, and people are pushed to the wayside,” Engelman says. “ It is time for leaders to demand the legislation we need. It is time for our representatives to advocate for their constituents instead of corporate interests.”
During Engelman’s speech, a law enforcement officer approached Engelman. A brief exchange ensued, with the officer telling the students to “go whine to somebody that cares.” Oli Tierney captured the event on video. She says, “We came here to help people imagine what it would be like if politicians were in our pockets. We had to do a lot of imagining. Not only did people not care about what we had to say, a police officer stopped one of our speakers during the middle of her speech. This proved our point that Kentucky politicians aren’t invested in the interests of the people.”
In addition to speaking out, the youth will be conducting get-out-the-vote work on campuses across the state in advance of the general election. According to the Pew Research Center, voting-eligible Gen-Xers, Millennials, and Post-Millennials make up the majority of voting-eligible adults. The group has increased by 18 million since 2014, with 15 million of those being Post-Millennials. The deadline to register to vote in the general election in Kentucky is October 9th.
Across the state, students with the KY Student Environmental Coalition (KSEC) are organizing teach-in events to educate their peers and build resistance to the controversial Kinder Morgan Tennessee Pipeline Conversion project. Events are planned for tonight at Berea College and next week at Morehead State University, Eastern Kentucky University, and Centre College.
"The Tennessee Gas Pipeline is a 75 year old pipeline that has already had over 250 ‘significant failures’ over it's lifetime. We shouldn't be talking about repurposing it, we should be talking about retiring it," said Clara Ana Ruplinger, a student hosting one of KSEC's teach-ins. "Now, Kinder Morgan wants to send NGLs through it, which are more dangerous than methane, extremely explosive and require higher pressure to transport. We can't let that happen. This project is a threat to our future."
The teach-in events include a presentation on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing and pipeline development as well as the unique dangers of this particular project in Kentucky. There is also an emphasis on resistance strategies and how young people can be a part of resisting this and other "threats" to their future.
"We are going to take responsibility for our future and fight this pipeline and every other pipeline project because we know that hydraulic fracturing and it’s NGL byproducts are not a part of the just and sustainable future that we need. We don't need bridge fuels to get to a renewable energy future, we can invest in real solutions right now that protect our water, our climate, and our future," said Sarah Buschman at Morehead State University. "That is why we are seeing so much resistance across the continent to stopping pipeline construction, including other controversial projects like; Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain PIpeline, Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipeline".
To learn more about KSEC and their work to build a network of empowered youth in Kentucky visit their website at www.kystudentenvironmentalcoalition.org
When: Monday, February 12, 2018 at 3:00PM EST
Where: Kentucky State Capitol Rotunda
Media Contact: Grace Engelman
Political Working Group Media Chair
For too long, Kentucky’s youth have been portrayed as apathetic by the media and elected officials alike. Our demands for sustainable solutions to climate change and our calls for justice have fallen on deaf ears long enough. We refuse to be ignored any longer. KSEC’s Rise Up Kentucky Rally will show the establishment it should be paying closer attention to the voices of young people. We know that, together, we can create a new status quo: one with a just transition from fossil fuels towards sustainable energy, a more politically engaged society, and safer communities. Our elected officials can either join us in creating a brighter future, or get out of the way.
BENHAM--- Despite the common narrative that Appalachian youth are leaving the region for opportunities elsewhere, many of them are taking action to build a just and sustainable economy in eastern Kentucky. This weekend, young people are gathering at the Benham Schoolhouse Inn for the Solutions Summit, a youth-led and youth-focused event hosted by the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition. The summit is a space for young Appalachians to discuss what it means to work toward a just economic transition and talk about the importance of an economy that is good for workers, keeps wealth in Appalachian communities and protects the region's resources.
Event organizer Tracy Blevins said it is important for young people to know they have the power to create the future they want for their home communities. She says the institutions and organizations currently working to transition Appalachia’s economy should make a greater effort to include young voices at the decision-making table as Appalachian youth are the region’s future leaders and workforce.
Chase Gladson is in the eighth grade at Cumberland Elementary school. Gladson says he is attending the summit to learn how he can help build a new economy in eastern Kentucky. “I want to live here when I get older, this is my home. I want to have a job here and raise a family here,” Gladson said.
The event includes a panel highlighting existing businesses that are leading the movement for a just economic transition as well as workshops that emphasized building grassroots power and jumpstarting the new economy. The Solutions Summit is part of KSEC’s Solutions Tour, an effort to fill the gap in economic transition efforts by amplifying the voices of young people, highlighting businesses and industries at the forefront of the transition, and giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to create and participate in the new economy. These youth are showing the state that young people are not apathetic, rather they are taking initiative to create the future they want to see.
Contact: Grace Engelman - 502-514-6521 | email@example.com
PRESTONSBURG, HOPKINSVILLE, LEXINGTON--- Members of the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition’s Political Working Group kicked off a new political education series this Thursday in Prestonsburg, Hopkinsville, and Lexington. These workshops, scheduled in three locations around the state, cover a range of topics from grassroots organizing to meeting with decision-makers. The goal of the workshops is to instill the confidence and knowledge in a new generation of young leaders to make change within our commonwealth.
KSEC began the series in response to a general feeling of anxiety amongst young people regarding the current political climate, both at the national and local level. “Young Kentuckians are not apathetic. A lot of us are not civically engaged because we aren’t sure how to navigate the political arena, how to effectively get our voices heard, or if anyone is even listening,” KSEC state organizer Cara Cooper said. “Our Political Education Series is helping young people understand that they are not alone in wanting better representation from our elected officials and learn how to be a part of a coordinated effort to uplift our voices and ensure that candidates and elected officials know what issues are most important to young voters.”
Participant Mina Meade explains what she would like to take away from the series: “I hope to learn about the passions and catalysts tucked inside youths, and give them the skills they need to make a better future for themselves and their families.”
Additional workshops will be held on October 12th, November 9th, and December 14th in Prestonsburg, Hopkinsville, Lexington, and Louisville.
MEDIA CONTACT June 7, 2017
Cara Cooper, KSEC State Organizer
859.242.6435 | firstname.lastname@example.org
When: June 10
Where: Benham Schoolhouse Inn
100 Central Ave
Benham, KY 40807
To help young Appalachians learn about economic opportunities in their home region, the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition’s Just Transition Working Group shines a light on Appalachia’s burgeoning renewable energy and energy efficiency industries and the role they can play in building strong, local economies.
Tre' Sexton, owner of Letcher County’s Bluegrass Solar Group, will discuss what it is like to work in the renewable energy industry and give a tour of his business’s solar installation at the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum. And Blake Enlow, executive director of Harlan County’s affordable housing organization COAP, Inc., will discuss the money-saving energy efficiency program Benham $aves.
The Renewable Energy Spotlight is one in a series of Spotlight events that KSEC’s Just Transition Working Group is hosting to educate young Appalachians about opportunities in the region’s media, energy, food, and creative sectors. The Spotlights are part of KSEC’s larger project, The Solutions Tour, which aims to ensure young people are participating in the conversation around Appalachia’s economic transition. The project is also gathering input from young Appalachians to ensure that their ideas and needs are considered by economic decision-makers. Our findings from this project will be sent to local chambers of commerce, Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), and organizations working on economic transition to ensure that they hear from young people. Learn more about KSEC’s Solution Tour on our website.
Contact: Allison Crawford - 270.29.6278 | email@example.com
Lexington, KY - Four members of the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition attended the Kentucky Manufacturer’s Conference and Trade Show on Wednesday to gain insight into the industry that will help shape KSEC’s strategy to hold important job-creators accountable for their impact on our environment.
KSEC member Destine Grigsby of the duPont Manual Environmental Club said an over overarching topic of the conference was cutting back regulations, also a key issue of Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin’s administration.
“There was also a lot of talk about fracking like it’s some big, godly thing. But we’ve seen how fracking has polluted the groundwater and air in other states like Oklahoma where then attorney general Scott Pruitt basically let the natural gas industry determine its own regulations,” Grigsby said. “I’m concerned that if Kentucky cuts back environmental regulations now while the fracking industry is just setting its sights on our state, what happened in places like Oklahoma, Ohio, and New York could happen here. And several places in those states have attempted to and successfully banned the practice of hydraulic fracturing.”
Emma Anderson of Centre College says the conference did not match her expectations. “I felt like a mouse in a lion’s den most of the time. It was frustrating to hear spokespeople talking about rolling back regulations like it’s a good thing they can give more people cancer with their pollution. But I was surprised when 5 different conference attendees said they were glad to see young people asking questions, even though we were questioning some of the industry’s core beliefs about environmental ethics and regulations,” Anderson said. “It’s nice to know that there are actually individuals within the industry who are worried about the health and well-being of me and my fellow Kentuckians.”
KSEC has been resisting threats to Kentucky’s environment and advocating for renewable energy since 2007. Join KSEC for it’s next renewable energy tour as part of the Solutions Tour, an effort to gather input from young Appalachians about what they want to see in Kentucky’s post-coal economy as well as highlight the ways the region's new economy is already taking hold. The tour begins at 1:00 p.m. at the Benham Schoolhouse Inn. It will feature renewable energy's role in Appalachia's just economic transition by visiting and learning more about the Bluegrass Solar installation at the Kentucky Mining Museum and the Benham $aves Energy Efficiency Program.
Contact: Tracy Blevins - 606.264.1744 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Whitesburg, KY- Students and young people from across Appalachia gathered at the Boone Youth Drop-In Center on Saturday to learn about the emerging Technology industry. The “Solution Spotlight” was the first in a series hosted by the KY Student Environmental Coalition that highlight the people who are taking economic transition into their own hands by building new opportunities. Izzy Broomfield of Mountain Tech Media, a local media business, and Shawn Lind of Appalshop’s new Mines to Minds Program spoke to the role technology is playing in economic transition and how young people can pursue careers in this field without having to leave the region to find a job.
“Many of my peers talk about leaving Appalachia for opportunities elsewhere, but Appalachia is my home. The mountains are a part of my life and I can’t imagine not seeing them on the horizon everyday.” said Caci Gibson a senior at Eastern Kentucky University from Middlesboro, KY. “Events like KSEC’s Solution Spotlights give me the opportunity to network with other young people who want to see Kentucky prosper and they inspire me to pursue new ideas. When we stay and work for a Just Transition, I believe we can ensure that Appalachia has a bright, just future, not just for young people but for everyone.”
This series of economic “Solution Spotlights” is a part of a bigger project organized by KSEC’s Just Transition Working Group to ensure that youth voices are a part of the discussion around economic transition, that young people know how to engage in economic decision making in their communities, and to show that the new economy is not something off in the future, rather, people are already forging their own paths towards a diversified economy in Central Appalachia.
KSEC is building a youth movement for an environmentally just and sustainable Kentucky. The network of students educates their peers in environmental issues, trains them in civic engagement activities and grassroots organizing strategy, stands in solidarity with environmental student groups across the state, and supports three working groups that emphasize just transition, political engagement, and local food.
When: April 1st
Where: Boone Youth Drop-In Center
59 Madison St
Whitesburg, KY 41858
Contact: Tracy Blevins, Organizer
KSEC Just Transition Working Group
Join the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition for our first of four Solutions Spotlights highlighting economic solutions for Appalachia’s post-coal economy. Our first Solutions Spotlight will bring out young people from across the region to learn more about eastern Kentucky’s burgeoning Technology Industry. Shawn Lind of Appalshop’s new Mines to Minds Program and Izzy Broomfield from Mountain Tech media will talk about how they see this new industry playing a role in a just, economic transition and how young people can prepare themselves for careers in technology without having to leave the region. We will wrap up the day by giving participants a way to plug into future Solutions Tour events including regional youth assemblies to learn how to engage in economic decision making. Our next three Solutions Spotlight events will highlight energy, food, and creative industries. The Solutions Spotlight series is part of our Solutions Tour, a larger effort to engage youth in building the new economy.
In many ways KY is leading the country when it comes to building a just, economic transition away from fossil fuels BUT young people are often left out at the decision making table. This event is part of a bigger project to ensure that young people in the region are participating in the conversation around economic transition and that their ideas and needs are considered when decisions are being made. This project includes surveying students and young people on which industries and careers they are most excited about for their communities, learning from each other about how economic decisions are being made, highlighting the emerging industries and the people behind them, and building a network of connected and empowered youth with the skills they need to build their own opportunities. Our findings from this project will be sent to local chambers of commerce, SOAR, and organizations working on economic transition to ensure that they hear from young people. Learn more about KSEC’s Solution Tour on our website.