Post Copenhagen Era: The Kentucky Battlefield
As the last delegates were leaving Copenhagen, cries accusing first world nations of being a “League of Polluters” in concert to push back any reforms on climate change crisis began to appear in the world press. Much of the blame for failure at this conference is being directed to American lack of attention to the problems of small nations. President Obama’s actions in secretly working behind the scenes with five nations (China, India, Brazil, and South Africa) brought many protests from small nations who felt that America was selling out their position on climate change issues.
Aside from the immediate fallout between the have and have not nations over the failure of these long awaited climate change talks, is the realization that now there is no single forum or structure where this debate can move into legally binding treaties or laws.
In many parts of the world, a new perspective of heavy polluters’ economic worth vs. clean air or water regulations will now drive legislative debates.
One such battlefield will be Kentucky. This state has become overnight, one of the world’s worst examples of how robber baron control over natural resources extraction is providing economic destruction far from its borders.
Several northeastern states are completing a new law suit to file in federal court to block the emissions from the Ohio River Valley energy plants. There are over 100 industrial plants located within the Ohio River Valley that have been identified by environmental organizations as heavy air and water polluters.
This coalition of northern states are claiming that Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois state governments are allowing these plants to cause great health harm to their citizens living up wind from the polluting plants. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are leading this effort. It was the New England states that fought Kentucky in the 1980’s and 1990’s over the issue of acid rain destroying the health of New Englanders. Now, in this first part of the 21st Century, another interstate health issue confronts this same region from the same polluters of the past.
World health and environmental organizations will also be studying the impact of Kentucky’s refusal to monitor or control the polluters within its borders. Kentucky and the other coal producing states will rapidly become a major negative issue for the new administration of President Obama.