Rep. Gooch - ain't no such thing as global warming.
Kentucky 2010 General Assembly and the Environmental Agenda
In a Post Copenhagen Era, Kentucky environmental politics will place the state at the forefront of any national or even global debate over who is directly responsible for damaging the planet. Kentucky’s protection of heavy metal and mega coal fired energy plants will soon become an issue platform for nations and planetary organizations to question what costs Kentucky must pay for this official policy. As the 2010 Kentucky General Assembly takes their seats in Frankfort, the forces of big coal are emboldened by the failure in Copenhagen to establish a new global legal structure for dealing with pollution.
These same interests know that they will have the upper hand in turning back any attempt to change the energy status quo of Kentucky. Big business, big coal, big oil, big utilities will have an easy time in stopping any progressive move to bring their special interests in line with new pollution standards.
However, this legislative session will be unlike any session in modern times. Facing a 1.5 to 1.7 billion budget short fall, all bets are off in terms of a normal legislative session. This budget shortfall will help to encourage even more money spent on coal. Big coal will politic about how many jobs they can produce.
Chairman Jim Gooch of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, and no friend of the environmentalists, will take the lead position in making sure coal wins big in this session. Fighting an uphill struggle will be a loose alliance of union workers, mountaintop removal activists, Natural Resources Council, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, and the Sierra Club. The only thing they will have going for them is that they know their cause is just. Laws in Kentucky are about big winners and losers. Traditionally, the interests of big coal win because they are ruthless with little regard for pollution’s impact upon the land or its people. Unless a political miracle happens, the fighters for saving the environment will lose.
In a strange way, the failure at Copenhagen has made what takes place over the next
three months in Frankfort, Kentucky a portal into political change forces interacting with:
(1) Kentucky House of Representatives and Senate members re election (2) Kentucky US Senate election and (3) positioning for 2011 Governor’s race.
A new reform movement is taking shape at the grass roots level in Kentucky. If the urban young ally with the regional progressives and make a strong case of transitioning Kentucky into a balanced growth energy policy, then they will impact and make a difference in the looming Senate races. The flash points for this movement to come together as a powerful new political force within Kentucky political wars are:
(1) Enforcement of EPA pollution regulations concerning the health effects and public cost of mega coal fired energy plants
(2) Enforcement of EPA water regulations concerning mountain top removal
(3) Enforcement of EPA regulations governing farm chemical run off
(4) New public attempts to regulate corporate hog farm operations as major health issue relating to Swine Flu dangers
(5) Efforts to pass laws to open Kentucky up to new nuclear power plants and waste storage sites
(6) Wholesale Kentucky State Government support of Kentucky water and electric utility
companies to charge massive new rates for their providing monopoly services.
(7) Kentucky Watershed Districts to push for new levels of taxation and
(8) New public struggle over the issue of “privatization” of rivers and lakes in Kentucky
for heavy metals and power companies vs. tourism and sports
Big coal and utility power brokers and lobbyists are at a great cross road in Kentucky history. Along one fork in the road is a sense that it is their time to completely dominate and control all water and coal resources in the state. They see this as a great era for profits at any cost to the public.
The second fork in the road will be a bit more troublesome to King Coal. This is the path of enlightenment and clean energy. Along this path will be fair utility rates and costs that are not based upon obscene profits for the energy and utility companies. However, the odds of this path being taken are not good.
The odds are very good that big coal interests will choose to fight for the wholesale failure of the 2010 General Assembly to work with the reform forces for clean water and breathable air.
If, indeed, this is to be the legacy of the 2010 General Assembly, then the social harm done from big coal and utility costs could become the rallying war cry of a new generation of political fighters across Kentucky linking up with urban and rural poor.
This new environmental and poverty coalition could redefine how state and regional politics will be played out in Kentucky in the coming election cycles.