Sierra Club and Murray Environmental Student SocietyHosts
Moving Western Kentcucky Beyond Coal Summitt
The Economics, the Environmental and Health Impacts, and Working for a Renewable Energy Economy!
Saturday September 10th 8:30am-7:00pm
Murray State University at the Curris Center
We will explore the important issues surrounding Illionoius Basin Coal and Coal Burning Power Plants in Western Kentucky and what steps we can take to grow new green jobs around a new renewable energy industry!
1) How is coal destroying our health, our water, our air, and environment?
2) How is coal destroying our economy and our future?
3) What can be done to make Kentcuky a fertile ground for renewable energy?
4) How can we create sustainable Green Jobs through a renewable energy industry and new energy efficiency for businesses and families?
Sierra Club leaders, the Kentucky Environmental Foundation, and others to be announced will lead discussions on these subjects.
The Sierra Club was front & center on theNBCandABCevening news broadcasts in western Kentucky this month after area residents packed a hearing at the McCracken County courthouse to weigh in on a proposed coal terminal and near the Ohio River in West Paducah.
"Homeowners aren't happy," reported WPSD Channel 6 News on March 16, "and the Sierra Club joined the opposition tonight at the McCracken County zoning board meeting to fight the plan."
The segment featured Dianna Riddick, above left, chair of theClub's Great Rivers Group, walking in a local nature preserve and explaining why the coal terminal was a bad idea. "We believe there's a risk with such close proximity to the Ohio River and the nature preserve," she said. "We need to think about responsible stewardship of our lands. Let's be smart about what we're doing and not make mistakes we've made in the past."
Riddick was prominently featured in severalmediaaccounts of the zoning commission meeting. "Just say no to coal,"Riddick told ABC affiliate WISL TV. "We don't want it, we don't need it. Let's invest in smart jobs and renewable energy."
A possible coal-to-liquid-gas plant is also being discussed, and so many citizens turned out to speak that the meeting lasted three hours. "We turned out 200 people, and everyone was given signs that saidNOin big letters," says Sierra Club organizer Tom Pearce, below left. Below right, WPSB reporter Jason Hibbs holds up one of the Club'sNO signs on the air.
Representatives from Southern Coal Handling, which wants to build the terminal, showed a video extolling the virtues of a similar coal plant in another city. But opponents countered withtheir own video, featuring interviews with neighbors of that plant who said the noise and dust were horrible.
"We're organizing with area residents, who are circulating petitions," says Pearce, who has helped create a newBeyond Coalteam in the Great Rivers Group. "Before the meeting we did door-to-door outreach around the proposed terminal site, met neighborhood leaders who oppose the plan, and turned out several families to the hearing who hadn't been previously contacted." Below, a sign in West Paducah urges locals to sign the Club's petition.
The Sierra Club has also struck up an alliance with Harrah's Casino, across the river in Illinois. Harrah's has been sharply critical of the proposed coal terminal and coal-to-gas plant, and is funding a full-page ad in the Paducah Sun newspaper to "revealthe truth about coal."
On March 23, the McCracken County zoning board approved the coal terminal on a 3-2 vote,eliciting boos and catcallsfrom another capacity crowd at the courthouse. But Pearce believes the fight is far from over.
"Now this goes to the Fiscal Court," he says, "which is made up of elected officials—and elections are coming in May! This plan has been beaten twice before in the Fiscal Court after the zoning board approved it unanimously."
Riddick says the Sierra Club is coordinating a petition drive and hope to have at least 2,000 names to present to the Fiscal Court opposing the rezoning. "Several community organizers are throwing their hats in with us and vice versa," she says. "We will continue the fight to preserve the lives of those residents of the West McCRacken County area from the known perils of a coal handling terminal."
Southern Coal Handling is dangling the lure of new jobs and claims the project will bring in the nation's first coal-to-liquid plant. "We are skeptical that they will be able to finish the technology and gain the funding necessary to build the multi-billion dollar plant," Riddick says, "but that will certainly be a long-term fight if it goes in.
"Heavy industrial zoning will allow that plant to be located in what is a beautiful rural residential neighborhood," she says. "We're fighting hard to keep the zoning down to prevent the col terminal and the coal-to-gas plant. This is the third time Southern Coal Handling has come back with this proposal, and we're hoping the third time isnotthe charm."
Amazing community fight back against coal terminal and coal to liquid gas, in Paducah KY
Dianna Yancy, local activist and Sierra member who grew up in community, is speaking of the need to involve people from the entire county.
Ben Killmon, looking on, is a 50 year member of the Sierra Club who lives across the street from the proposed site, and hosted organizing meeting.
Fast and furious organizing in McCracken County for the April 19th Fiscal Court hearing on the proposed coal to liquid gas plant and terminal in McCracken County. Residents held organizing meeting last Saturday, (April 2), and 20 folks participated, residents pitched in and raised $489.00 toward Eddie Jones legal fees after the water company paying him backed out.