More than 300 people are to gather in Frankfort this Saturday to talk about what the Green New Deal could mean for Kentucky.
Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Green New Deal legislation aims to jump-start the U.S. economy and curb global warming by shifting the country to 100% clean, renewable energy sources by 2030.
Garrett Blad, national press coordinator for the Sunrise Movement, an organization of young people focused on clean-energy jobs in the face of climate change, said communities need to start thinking about local investments and solutions. "For people in Kentucky," he said, "this is going to be a really important policy to both help the state transition away from coal and help the communities that have been on the front lines of crises that are impacting our society."
Free and open to the public, the meeting is part of a cross-country "National Road to a Green New Deal" tour. The list of speakers includes Scott Shoupe, a fourth-generation coal miner, and state Rep. Attica Scott, D-Louisville. The event in Frankfort is being held by the Sunrise Movement, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, and the Service Employees International Union. More information is online at KFTC.org.
The meeting comes on the heels of a declining coal economy. In 2001, more than 90% of Kentucky's energy came from coal; last year, it was 75%. Speakers will discuss how creating an energy infrastructure that produces zero emissions can bring jobs to the state in fields such as solar and wind power.
Cassia Heron, vice chair of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, said workers in the coal industry can play a critical role in shaping Kentucky's clean-energy future. "In eastern Kentucky, miners have been asking and begging and fighting for health benefits because of black lung," she said. "The visions and promises of a new deal would have protections for workers who are transitioning to an economy that's focused on renewable energy."
A recent Yale University study found that 81% of registered voters support the Green New Deal, including majorities in both major political parties.