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: Allison Crawford - 270.29.6278 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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 | email@example.com
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.
FRANKFORT--- Members of the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition met with some of the state’s legislators on Friday afternoon. Students attended the lobby day in the hopes of discussing the placement of the Energy Opportunity Act, a bill KSEC worked to get introduced in the Senate. The students strategized for the upcoming session, discussing key legislators to meet with in order to get the bill passed.
In passing the Energy Opportunity Act, Kentucky would adopt a renewable and energy efficiency portfolio standard that would increase utility companies’ renewable energy production by 12.5 percent and increase energy efficiency by 10.25 percent over the next 10 years. The legislation also introduces of feed-in tariffs to Kentucky utilities, which would give Kentuckians the opportunity to become energy entrepreneurs.
“This bill would bolster the state’s economy and citizens’ pocketbooks. A study from Synapse Energy Economics found that this bill would create upwards of 28,000 jobs and save consumers 8 to 10 percent on their energy bills,” high school student and KSEC member Grace Engelman said. “It makes a lot of sense to pass this bill, so I am hopeful that our legislators reach across party lines to get it through to the governor.”
Representative Mary Lou Marzian and Senator Reginald Thomas were among the legislators KSEC met with on Friday. Rep. Marzian sponsors the Energy Opportunity Act in the House and Sen. Thomas sponsors the bill in the Senate.
Nate Cortas, UK Greenthumb Media Coordinator
Phone: (502)-240-8531 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY -- Students at the University of Kentucky have claimed victory in their four-year campaign for reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the university. President Eli Capilouto cited student leadership when he announced plans last week to reduce the institution’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 2010 levels by 2025. Members of the campus environmental group UK Greenthumb expressed excitement and support for this latest effort to increase campus sustainability.
Greenthumb began campaigning for university administration to address UK’s contribution to climate change back in 2012. As one of the Commonwealth’s larger greenhouse gas-emitting institutions, the flagship university’s commitment to reduce emissions is a major victory for Greenthumb and the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, a network of student environmental groups at 22 campuses across the state including UK.
To reach this campaign victory, Greenthumb members collected hundreds of signatures, garnered the backing of student government, and rallied with over one-hundred students to pressure administrators into developing a climate action plan.
Incoming Greenthumb co-coordinator Taylor Renfro said, “It’s been really awesome to see the hard work of past and current student members of Greenthumb pay off. It’s important to know that as students we have a voice. I hope that this inspires other students and student organizations to keep working towards their goals of higher standards for their university.”
Greenthumb has played a vital role in shaping a more sustainable campus over the years. Robert Kahane was a member of Greenthumb from 2005 to 2009, during which time he says Greenthumb won a multi-year campaign for a student fee for sustainability. “Even though progress is sometimes hard, UK has almost always done the right thing when it comes to sustainability. . . . [T]his policy gives UK a huge opportunity to be innovative in finding ways to reduce GHGs,” he said. “I think Greenthumb's success is another in a long list of accomplishments.”
UK is the latest in a series of Kentucky universities to commit to greenhouse gas reductions. Students conducted a successful climate action campaign at Eastern Kentucky University in 2015. Both Northern Kentucky University and Centre College signed on to the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment in 2007 and the University of Louisville signed on in 2008.
In its commitment, UK states that carbon-neutrality is a long-term objective for the institution. Representatives of UK Greenthumb say they will continue pushing for increased reduction commitments in order to reach this goal.