By Elizabeth E. Payne
On April 19, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, a social justice grassroots organization, released its Empower Kentucky Plan, outlining how the state could transition to clean energy.
The plan seeks to create jobs and improve health and climate outcomes by focusing on energy efficiency and renewable energy and by charging a fee for carbon dioxide pollution.
The initiative also calls for a $1 fee per short ton of carbon dioxide beginning in 2018 and increasing to $3 over the next 15 years. The fee would deter burning coal for electricity and it would provide up to $2 billion by 2032 that could be invested in energy efficiency initiatives that would boost employment and ensure that vulnerable populations are not burdened by the transition.
KFTC also released an Environmental Justice Analysis of the proposal. The assessment demonstrated the strong correlations that exist between the proximity of vulnerable populations to energy extraction and hazardous waste sites, which can cause negative health effects.
The Empower Kentucky Plan focuses much of its attention on improving the situation for these at-risk communities, defined as low income, minority and elderly individuals, as well as those with less than a high school education.
Synapse Energy Economics, a research and consulting firm, analyzed the plan and projected that if it were implemented it would create 46,300 more jobs in the state by 2032 than if it were not. This analysis assumes passage of the Clean Power Plan, so projections may vary now that President Trump has directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to dismantle and replace the Obama-era plan.