It has been an exciting couple of weeks here, starting with the recent unveiling of TWO significant solar projects. The first had its ribbon-cutting a week ago this past Thursday morning in Frankfort. The ribbon-cutting, held by the City of Frankfort and Earth Tools Inc.was for a project at the Juniper Hill Golf Course Pro Shop, where 82 panels were installed to provide 25% of the shop’s power. Former KCC President Andy McDonald was the force behind this project, as described in two articles from the Frankfort State Journal, here and here.
The second installation, unveiled later that same afternoon, was held at the Catholic Action Center in Lexington. Story here.
The inspiration for the Catholic Action Center project came as a reaction to the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. This is one of the first homeless shelters in the country to be powered by solar, and the first one financed with only private contributions. We wish to thank Synergy Energy for providing a discount on the price of the 100 panels they installed on the center, and was one of the companies who was strongly engaged in our opposition to SB214 last session, along with Solar Energy Solutions and Wilderness Trace Solar during the last legislative session. Catholic Action Center press release on their solar project here. KCC is continuing its campaign to provide more solar-friendly legislation in Kentucky. If you are interested in supporting this work, please contact Lane Boldman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Laws, Interim Session
The new laws that were passed during the 2017 legislative session took effect on June 29th of this year (see story at link). We also want to flag the status of the state’s recent weakening of coal ash rules, as described in this story by Erica Peterson, which anticipates a late July implementation. In the meantime, legislators have been convening during the Interim Joint Session, which began during the first week of June and runs through the first week of December.
Highlights of the week: We were pleased with the presentation this week to the Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources & Energy from the Jackson Group, a firm located in Madison County. The firm outlined how to address natural stream restoration approaches to erosion of our transportation infrastructure caused by flooding and other hydrological impacts. We found this to be an enlightened presentation that applied good science and stream health as considerations when addressing infrastructure issues.
We were also intrigued this week by the presentation on Autonomous Vehicles to the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation. As vehicles adapt more “smart” technology, this raises a range of questions on statutes, including re-visiting the definition of a car’s “driver,” and issues involving public safety and insurance. Already thirty-three states have considered ninety-six bills involving Autonomous Vehicles. And During the course of this discussion, lawmakers once again raised the issue of gas taxes and the impact that the growing electric vehicle and alternative fuel market may have on revenues. This is an issue that KCC will be watching closely.
More on Electric Vehicles
While we are speaking about electric vehicles, we wish to note that the Energy and Environment Cabinet is accepting proposals regarding the Volkswagen Settlement (link HERE). The Cabinet is currently in the process for developing Kentucky’s mitigation plan. States will be receiving settlement funds that will be designated for NOx reduction through this settlement. KCC and the Louisville-based electric vehicle advocacy group Evolve Kentucky recently met with cabinet officials to learn about recent developments with the settlement and advocate for an “all electric” approach to vehicles that may be purchased through settlement funds. There are also national advocacy groups, such as Plug-In America, that have released reports on the adoption of plug-in vehicles and their advantages. Link to report here. If you are interested in being a part of this dialogue on shaping this settlement for Kentucky, please contact KCC at email@example.com. You can also contact Evolve Kentucky to learn more about their innovative “Adopt a Charger” program for increasing the availability of electric vehicle charging stations.
To comment directly on the VW plan, you can use the cabinet’s comment form here.
In 2015, the State Nature Preserves Commission’s Biennial report highlighted “Pollinators on the Decline,” which identified how the protection of pollinators would be a priority for the Commission. Now we are pleased to announce the new Pollinator Protection Plan, which was released last month during a “Pollinator Week” kickoff event. Link here. Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles kicked off the week with the unveiling of the pollinator plan, demonstrations on beekeeping, and a display of Kentucky Proud products. KCC has been part of the review team for the Pollinator Protection Plan, and also the soon-to-be-finalized Monarch Protection Plan.
Relating to this, KCC also recently attended one of the “Linking Agriculture for Networking & Development” (LAND) Forums hosted by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA), and Kentucky Association of Manufacturers (KAM). Three sessions were held throughout the state, highlighting local agricultural producers. We took the opportunity to spread the word about the new pollinator plan, but we were also intrigued by the innovative ideas that local producers were demonstrating on how to use natural products in innovative ways, such as the mushroom farmer who described how mushrooms were being used to absorb oils and pavement runoff at Bernheim Arboretum.
Wild & Scenic Film Festival
We are excited to announce our second year of hosting Syrcl’s “Wild and Scenic Film Festival,” a traveling festival of rotating short outdoor recreation films. The event will be held on Thursday, August 17th, so mark your calendar! This year, we are taking the festival to Lexington’s Kentucky Theatre. If you have seen this festival before, note that every showing has a different selection of films chosen by the host organization. This year we have selected nearly a dozen exciting adventure films to appeal to all fans of the outdoors. Tickets will be $20 donation ($15 student) and can be purchased one week in advance at the Kentucky Theatre Box Office. HOWEVER we fully expect the event to be a sellout, and strongly recommend you sign up in advance to reserve your tickets through KCC at this link.
We want to thank our signature festival sponsors: Canoe Kentucky, Wild Birds Unlimited Lexington, West 6th Brewing, J&H Outdoors and Good Foods Co-Op for their support for this year’s festival. We also want to thank in-kind sponsor, the Cumberland Chapter Sierra Club for their assistance in promoting the event.
The evening will once again host a silent auction, held by KCC’s charitable foundation, the Kentucky Conservation Foundation. We wish to thank Michler’s Florist, Weisenberger Mill, Ale-8 and Buffalo Trace Distillery for their generous contributions to the KCF silent auction. If you would like to become a sponsor for the film fest, or contribute to the KCF silent auction, contact us!
Volunteer with KCC!
We have many exciting opportunities for volunteers to contribute to our work! If you can spare a few hours this Summer, please contact us!