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.
WHEN: 12:30 p.m., January 6, 2017
WHERE: Cafeteria of the Capitol Annex
CONTACT: Grace Engelman - 502-514-6521 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition meet with state legislators in Frankfort the afternoon of Friday, January 6. The students and legislators will discuss placement of the Energy Opportunity Act, a bill to 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.
Nate Cortas, UK Greenthumb Media Coordinator
Phone: (502)-240-8531 | Email: email@example.com
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.
The Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, a network of students from 22 high school, college, and university campuses and non-student youth from across the state, calls on our U.S. Senators to protect the health and safety of the American people by preventing climate science denialist and fossil fuel industry ally Scott Pruitt from being named the next administrator of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA’s mission is “to ensure all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work.” Pruitt’s own Linkedin profile touts himself as a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” His appointment has led to public outcry, with several prominent environmental leaders, including the heads of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the American Sustainable Business Council, and the World Resources Institute, issuing public statements denouncing the appointment, according to Newsweek.
Pruitt wrote in the National Review, “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.” Human emissions of greenhouse gases through the burning of fossil fuels are destabilizing the global climate. This is fact. There is no legitimate debate. See the Weather Channel’s Kait Parker take on the Breitbart website for trying to mislead people on climate change. Appointing someone who actively misleads the public by denying scientific facts is an unethical and catastrophic decision.
The youth of this world will bear the disastrous consequences of such an appointment. It is our clean water, clean air, clean soil, and lives at stake. And we are running out of time to address anthropogenic climate change. We need strong leadership in the EPA that is interested in protecting public health and safety by working to mitigate the impacts of climate change and regulating polluting industries, not dismantling established protections for the benefit of the fossil fuel industry.
The Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition is committed to helping create a clean and safe future for Kentuckians that supports a just economic transition and protects our workers and our environment. We do this by pushing our high schools and universities to be environmentally responsible through investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable local food economies. We also aim to pass legislation to promote green job creation in KY, protect our natural resources, and oppose false solutions. We know that a bright future for young Kentuckians is one where we are able to stay and prosper after graduation, enjoy the natural wonder of our countryside and mountains, and instill strong values of compassion and environmental stewardship.
Youth Assembly for Just Economic Transition
As the coal industry continues to decline, youth from across central Appalachia are gathering in Whitesburg, Kentucky, this Sunday to learn about and discuss successful models of economic transition. They will also discuss how young people can be active in diversifying the local economy.
This is the first in a series of youth assemblies co-hosted by the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition and the Stay Together Appalachian Youth Project aimed at providing a platform for young Appalachians to weigh in with their own ideas for creating a fair, diverse and sustainable economy. The series is the first phase of The Solutions Tour, a project of KSEC’s Just Transition Working Group. In the second phase, the JTWG will present their findings from the assemblies to coalition partners, politicians, and the public.
The first assembly takes place at Appalshop’s Boone Youth Center in Whitesburg, KY, on November 20 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Those who plan to attend are asked to register in advance.
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.
Outside Monday night’s KET senate debate one voice was louder than the rest, the voice of young Kentuckians. Young voters are often described as apathetic but a group of a dozen students and young people from the KY Student Environmental Coalition (KSEC) stood in stark contrast to that sentiment. Holding signs that asked candidates to address climate change and be bold energy leaders, the students wanted to make sure that Mayor Gray and Senator Paul knew that they were disappointed in their lack of leadership on energy and environmental issues.
“I’m so tired of hearing that millennials are apathetic. We aren’t apathetic or unengaged. We are being ignored. Is it really surprising we don’t vote when we have candidates who are failing to address the issues that are most important to us?” said Taylor Renfro, who studies environmental and sustainability at the University of Kentucky. “Want to activate young voters? Start talking about real energy transition, protecting our communities from pollution and addressing economic inequalities. Renewable energy and energy efficiency legislation could put our communities back to work and help Kentucky become an energy leader again. And our senate candidates on either side of the aisle haven’t said one word about new energy solutions. We aren’t voting because we are completely uninspired by our options.”
KSEC supports a network of students and young people from across the state who are working to build a better future in Kentucky by advocating for the protection of natural resources, community health and resiliency and a new, sustainable “green” economy. One of their initiatives is building support amongst elected officials for renewable energy portfolio standard legislation, called the Energy Opportunity Act, which, according to a study done by Synapse Energy Solutions, would create a net 28,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.
“If our candidates actually cared about job creation, they would be leading a just economic transition, which includes creating a green economy in Kentucky where we are not only putting people to work in increasing the energy efficiency of our homes and businesses and installing renewable energy, like rooftop solar, but also talking about manufacturing wind turbines and solar panels here, too.” said Grace Engelman, a high school student from Owen County. “When we hear candidates and legislators say that they are going to bring back coal, we know that is a false promise and only reflects on their ties to the coal industry, not the real needs in our communities. Coal is not coming back and what we need now is a plan to protect our impacted communities from another large extractive industry swooping in while we are vulnerable.”
Currently 29 states have a renewable energy portfolio standard including Ohio and North Carolina. Many attribute the huge economic growth in the solar energy sector in North Carolina specifically to the passage of REP standards and they are now leading the nation in employing people in the solar industry. Kentucky has vast untapped potential for solar, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal energy production. KY currently gets 3% of our electricity from renewable sources, and about 80% from coal with the rest coming from natural gas.
KSEC Energy Lobby Day
KY Students Meet Legislators to Advocate for Energy Opportunity Act
Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition members are lobbying legislators on the House Standing Committee on Tourism Development and Energy to vote for the Energy Opportunity Act. The youth feel their future is being blocked by state officials who are dragging their feet on legislation that could create 28,000 jobs and reduce the state’s carbon emissions. Kentucky youth met with Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, Rep. Brian Linder, Rep. Tom McKee, Sen. Julian Carroll, and Sen. Reginald Thomas for KSEC’s third Energy Lobby Day.
By passing the Energy Opportunity Act, Kentucky would adopt a renewable and energy efficiency portfolio standard, or REPS, that would increase utilities’ renewable energy production by 12.5 percent and increase energy efficiency by 10.25 percent within a period of 10 years.
“Similar legislation has already passed in over half of the states in the U.S. and we have seen many positive outcomes. This legislation creates jobs, boosts the economy, and lowers electricity bills,” KSEC Renewable Energy Organizer Will Cripps said.
The act was originally introduced to the House in 2010 and has been placed in the House Standing Committee on Tourism Development and Energy each session since. The committee has yet to vote on the act.
“Every year the committee ignores this legislation is another year our elected officials prevent Kentucky from gaining 28,000 jobs and another year we fall behind states who are embracing the new energy economy,” KSEC Organizer Cara Cooper said. “KSEC would like to see this bill go to vote so we can know which legislators truly support economic development in our state and which legislators are content to let our communities suffer as the coal industry declines”
Passing this legislation would be a demonstration that elected officials are listening to young voices and are working to bring about a healthier, brighter future for the youth of Kentucky.
Tracy Blevins is a member of the KSEC Just Transition Steering Committee and is from Van Lear, Kentucky. She thinks the legislation could be beneficial to coalfield communities by providing much needed work. “The Energy Opportunity Act could be instrumental in introducing a just economic transition in Kentucky. In a state with extraordinary potential to implement alternatives, such as solar, wind, and hydro energy production, increased use of renewable energy technologies could help alleviate long standing problems like unemployment, pollution, and the destruction of our natural resources,” Blevins said.
“Our utilities are government-sanctioned monopolies and energy production is not solely governed by the free market. Fossil fuel companies receive millions of dollars in subsidies and tax cuts. We ask that our elected officials represent the economic interests of their constituents by encouraging utilities to substantially increase their production of renewable energy and provide a greater variety of choices to their customers. Renewable energy can provide low electric rates and well-paying, safe jobs for Kentuckians.”
The legislators are interested in learning more about how renewable energy and energy efficiency can benefit Kentuckians. KSEC is calling on the Tourism Development and Energy Committee to vote on the act during the upcoming legislative session.
KY Students Meet Legislators to Advocate for Energy Opportunity Act
October 5, 2016
Legislators' Offices in Frankfort and Lexington
Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition members are meeting with Representative Mary Lou Marzian, Representative Brian Linder, Representative Tom McKee, Senator Julian Carroll, and Senator Reginald Thomas in Lexington and Frankfort for KSEC’s third Clean Energy Lobby Day on October 5th. The group of 10-15 high school and college students are lobbying for the Energy Opportunity Act which mandates Kentucky’s utility companies reach 12.5% renewable energy and increase energy efficiency by 10.25% within 10 years. It would also encourage low income communities to harness clean power with feed-in tariffs, allowing individuals to sell back their excess energy to utility companies at a wholesale price.
Meeting Times and Locations
Rep. Linder - 10:00 a.m., Frankfort office
Sen. Carroll - 11:30 a.m., Frankfort office
Rep. Marzian - 11:30 a.m., Frankfort office
Rep. McKee - 11:30 a.m., Frankfort office
Sen. Thomas - 2:00 p.m., Lexington office
Political Working Group Media Chair