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The Sun Shines Bright


I’d like to share some of the good news in Kentucky showing progress on several of Kentucky’s most pressing conservation, environmental, and energy issues.


Solar Energy Gets Hearing


On October 26, the Kentucky General Assembly’s Interim Joint Committee on Local Government, co-chaired by Senator Damon Thayer and Representative Steve Riggs, heard testimony from Andy McDonald and Dennis Oudard on solar energy initiatives and prospects in Kentucky. Andy is a KCC board member and head of the Kentucky Solar Partnership, and Dennis is an officer of the Kentucky Solar Energy Society.


Now here’s why this is good news.


First, because the committee heard this testimony — in Kentucky — by invitation of the committee. They didn’t have to hear this testimony. And, in a state like Kentucky, testimony on renewable energy prospects doesn’t happen every day. Or even every year.


Second, the presenters were very well received. Not that there weren’t some predictable concerns and skepticism from a few members of the committee. But there was no overt hostility.


One might ask, “Why?”


Well, an optimist would say that it’s because the case for solarjoin kcc‘s role in Kentucky’s energy portfolio is becoming clearer and stronger. There are more and more jobs from solar-related companies and there’s increasing investment in solar by both the public and private sector.


For example, Representative Tom McKee noted how farmers use solar panels to power fence chargers. And even some utility companies are making investments in solar. To learn more about solar initiatives in Kentucky, see the fine article, “Help the Sun Power Kentucky,” posted this week by KCC’s Rick Clewett on our website.


KCC Priorities for the 2012 Session


At KCC’s Fall Annual Meeting on November 5 at the University of Louisville, the audience heard two excellent presentations on the upcoming General Assembly. The first presentation by Senator Ernie Harris informed us on key issues that will confront the next session, in particular redistricting and budget issues.


Our second presentation, by Tom FitzGerald, Director of the Kentucky Resources Council and considered the state’s leading environmental advocate by most, filled in more details about prospects for issues of concern to KCC like sustainable energy and land conservation. Suffice it to say, we have our work cut out for us to advance a progressive agenda on land conservation and energy issues.


KCC, as part of two separate coalitions of broad-based stakeholder groups, will be pursuing some important and progressive legislation in the 2012 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.


One will be the next stage in advocacy for deeper funding for land conservation. Terry Cook, the Director of the Kentucky Nature Conservancy, is leading the stakeholder coalition on land conservation and has posted a status report, “A New Call to Conserve Kentucky,” on our website.


We’ll work again this session with the sustainable energy coalition, KySEA, on energy initiatives. Look for more information about KySEA’s initiative and our role in it in an upcoming letter from me.

paw paw at dorman snp
Paw Paw at Dorman SNP
(Vicki Holmberg photo)


In addition to land conservation and sustainable energy, a third area of concern to KCC and many other groups, organizations and experts is the preservation of Kentucky’s amazing biodiversity of plant and animal life.


At the annual meeting on November 5, we gained a better understanding of the many threats from invasive plant species to Kentucky’s native plants and landscape.from Pamla Wood of KCC, Joyce Bender of the Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission, Dr. Tamara Sluss of Kentucky State University, and Dr. Tara Trammel of the University of Louisville.


You’ll want to read Vicki Holmberg’s article, “A National and Historical Context for Invasive Species,” posted this week on KCC’s website, which was prompted by the presentations.


It is clear that there are many initiatives that could and should be pursued to confront the host of problems presented by invasive species. KCC is evaluating the possibility of pursuing one or more legislative approaches to some of them.

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Building Coalitions for Advocacy


As each of these issue areas demonstrate, there are many groups and organizations in Kentucky aligned around these issues. KCC has historically played an important role in bringing coalitions of groups together to address key policy issues. To that end, KCC welcomes organizations as Partners (paying embers) and Affiliates (nonpaying members).


KCC aims to broaden and deepen its bench of Partner and Affiliate members by looking at new categories of groups that share a concern about the issues identified by KCC for focus. We expect, for example, to look to health-related organizations, faith-based groups, and perhaps to trade groups for new members desiring to invest in Kentucky’s clean energy future.


We have a broad tent and, as in many venues, there is strength in numbers. So, expect to hear more about this important effort to bring more groups and organizations into the KCC family.


–Art Williams


Former, Executive Director

Kentucky Conservation Committee