We tell stories that matter.

Manual RedEye

We tell stories that matter.

Manual RedEye

We tell stories that matter.

Manual RedEye

Support Us
$1005
$2500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of duPont Manual High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Advertisement

OPINION: Kentucky leaders should do more to address fossil fuels

Clean+energy+protects+the+natural+sites+of+Kentucky+such+as+Cumberland+Falls.+Photo+by+Rafik+Wahba%2C+free+to+use+under+the+Unsplash+License.+
Clean energy protects the natural sites of Kentucky such as Cumberland Falls. Photo by Rafik Wahba, free to use under the Unsplash License.

Kentucky has begun to move towards cleaner energy sources, but there are still questions about whether or not current actions are enough for the future of the Commonwealth. 

On Nov. 7, 2023, Louisville Gas and Electric as well as Kentucky Utilities received permission from the Kentucky Public Service Commission to utilize cleaner sources of energy, such as solar panels. Although not all of the companies’ requests were approved, this is still a step in the right direction for Kentucky’s environment.

There is still work that needs to be done, and that involves the Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and his energy plan, the Kentucky Energy Strategy (KYE3). He needs to lead Kentucky towards the use of clean energy by including strong, clear goals in KYE3, as it never mentions any goals relating to clean energy or global warming.

 While he has made solar panels more accessible to the public, which are a source of renewable energy, he continues to keep coal plants and strip mines open, advocating for a plan that is “flexible and built around community engagement and robust choices”. KYE3 will allow businesses to decide “…the goals and objectives that resonate…” with them. This approach allows those businesses to refuse to switch to cleaner sources of energy and continue to damage the environment by burning fossil fuels and natural gas. 

When people hear the term ‘fossil fuels’, their thoughts typically jump to substances like petroleum. However, this is not the major problem in Kentucky. Unsurprisingly, it’s coal. Almost 10 billion tons of coal  have been mined in Kentucky since 1790. Coal is a large contributor to global warming, as it poisons the air and waterways. Burning coal causes a wide range of health issues, ranging from asthma and general breathing difficulties to more severe conditions such as cancer and premature deaths. The health issues and air pollution are caused by the gasses released when coal is burned, while the waterways are impacted by ash byproducts.

Unlike fossil fuels and natural gasses, clean energy can be generated by a wide range of sources. The most known are solar panels and wind turbines, but other sources include water, nuclear power, geothermal energy, and bioenergy. An advantage these sources hold is that they are renewable, as opposed to the nonrenewable status of fossil fuels, which means Kentucly can use these resources repeatedly without worrying about using it all up. While Ford and BlueOval SK are building a large electric vehicle factory in Hardin County, Kentucky still relies mostly on coal and those cars aren’t going to be used explicitly in Kentucky. Rather, they would be exported to other states or countries. 

One reason that Beshear advocates for the use of coal is because Kentucky’s economy is reliant on coal production. The state accounts for 4.8% of U.S. coal production in 2022, and is the fifth largest coal-producing state in the U.S. 

Beshear is surely aware that he would’ve lost gubernatorial votes from more right-leaning counties if he had fully supported cleaner energy. During their race to become governor, both Beshear and his opponent, Daniel Cameron, refused to comment on the topic of climate change. Unfortunately, even though Beshear is locked in for a second term, Kentucky may still mainly rely on coal due to the governor’s colleagues. 

For example, InsideClimate News reported Kentucky Senator Phillip Wheeler (R), a supporter of Cameron, stated the Democratic Party has “declared war on the fossil industry”. Beshear’s supporters have a differing view on his policies. In the same article, Tom Morris, a chairperson at the Sierra Club Kentucky Chapter, stated that the governor “…needs to take more leadership on climate change. I think his influence would go a long way in the state of Kentucky and he doesn’t have to oppose coal.”

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) suggests that Kentucky adopts “policies to support industrial decarbonization”. While acknowledging the small changes in Beshear’s Energy Plan, many Kentuckians are still left wondering if the Commonwealth is doing enough.

About the Contributor
Gabi Celani, Staffer
Gabi Celani is a staffer for Manual RedEye. They are interested in zoology and are a determined environmentalist. Their favorite Kentucky native animal is the white egret. You can contact them at [email protected].
Leave a Comment
Donate to Manual RedEye
$1005
$2500
Contributed
Our Goal

Donations are collected through The Publishers, duPont Manual High School’s booster club for J&C. Your donation will support the student journalists of duPont Manual High School. Your contribution will provide equipment and cover annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Manual RedEye
$1005
$2500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

Any comments that are attributed, related and meaningful to the story will be approved. We reserve the right to decline anonymous comments.
All Manual RedEye Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *