This is my position on the environment. In general I would like to see three things happen.
First, enforce the present laws on non-compliant polluters. We have many standards already in place and believe that, more laws are not necessary if we enforce what is currently in the books.
Second, Kentucky should quit offering tax incentives to out-of-state corporations to locate here with their promise to create jobs. Tax incentives should be offered to Kentucky’s existing corporations and businesses to achieve state-of-the-art compliance with environmental laws.
Third, create jobs in the growing “green” sector, and, more importantly, anchor already existing jobs here in Kentucky. Kentucky should improve its’ profile in the eyes of relocating companies who appreciate a healthy environment for their workers.
Here is a little more detail on what I think should happen.
Promote livable urban environments to minimize urban sprawl. Promote urban infill with affordable housing, mass transit, schools, jobs, health care, public spaces, bicycle and walking paths, community gardens, open spaces, parks, playgrounds, and urban growth boundaries.
Support environmental justice policies that give communities large and small a voice in planning future development with the goal of preventing concentration of polluting industries and practices.
Green our cities with green belts, energy-efficient infill, distributed solar and wind generation, gray water systems, undergrounding of wires and pipelines, redevelopment of brownfields, closed loop, energy-producing sewage systems, watershed protection and urban agriculture. Restore damaged urban ecosystems.
Redirect resources that currently go to enhancing auto capacity into expanding human-scale transit options. Develop affordable mass transit systems that are more economical to use than private vehicles. Encourage employer subsidies of transit commuter tickets for employees, funded by government Congestion Management grants.
Use existing auto infrastructure for transit expansion where possible. Light rail could be established in expressway medians through metropolitan high density corridors. Include land use decisions in transportation issues, with consideration of the need for mass transit to have a market and be viable, and with attention paid to cross-commuting - the practice of people commuting to a place where they could and should live.
Place a moratorium on highway widening then use the money for mass transit and facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists. Mandate HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes on freeways, and the elimination of tolls.
Support ambitious increases in motor vehicle fuel efficiency, including the use of hybrid electric designs. Encourage the development and market to the general public fuel efficient cars as well as solar, electric and other non-fossil fuel powered vehicles for local travel. Support government procurement of high efficiency motor vehicles. Encourage carpooling programs, telecommuting, and other creative solutions to reduce commuter traffic congestion.
The best incentive we can provide to live closer to work and reduce the use of private vehicles is to make the alternative inexpensive and convenient to use by building efficient low cost public transportation systems
Preserve and expand rural land use patterns that promote open space, healthy eco-systems, wildlife corridors and the ecologically sustainable agriculture. Protect and expand large continuous tracts of public and private land for wildlife habitat and biological diversity, to permit healthy, self-managing wildlife populations to exist in a natural state, and to promote complete ecosystems.
Promote livable rural communities to minimize urban migration and transition rural communities into sustainable relationships with agriculture, forestry and mining. Reward farmers for the ecosystem services they provide on private and public lands. Favor policies that promote small-scale farmers over large-scale corporate agriculture.
Convert Kentucky farms to organic practices. Chemical and industrial agriculture produces 35-50% of climate destabilizing greenhouse gases.
Switch to local food production and distribution. Localized, organic food production and distribution reduce fossil fuel usage and enriches soil that that sequesters more carbon dioxide. Reduce methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases by rapidly phasing out confined animal feeding operations.
The Kentucky must retrofit its building stock for energy efficiency. Most Kentucky residents live in homes that require heat during the winter, and most are inadequately insulated. Buildings in Kentucky require air conditioning during the summer. Fuel shortages, power outages, and energy price hikes could bring not just discomfort, but a massive increase in mortality from cold and heat. Millions of buildings can and must be super-insulated and, as much as possible, provided with alternative heat sources (passive solar, geothermal, or district heating).
We will need concerted effort to increase efficiency in every sector of our economy. Technologies exist that, if widely implemented, can result in huge energy savings. Cogeneration and use of waste heat to generate electricity should be encouraged.
State-level financing policies can help homeowners install expensive renewable energy where the county pays the up-front cost and the system is paid for via the homeowner's property taxes.
Ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. Phase-out of coal power plants. Coal is the largest contributor to climate change with estimates as high as 80%. Continue the ban the building of nuclear plants within the borders of Kentucky.
Cease the development of fuels produced with polluting, energy-intensive processes or from unsustainable or toxic feed stocks, such as genetically-engineered crops, coal and waste streams contaminated with persistent toxics.
Oppose the use of biomass as an energy source on a large scale because of the adverse impacts it will have on our forests, soils, and natural habitats. Biomass from landfills may pose problems of air pollution if incinerators are used.
Create an inclusive program to train workers for the new, clean energy economy. Focusing on both the environment and social justice, prioritize the creation of green jobs in low income communities.
Adopt a clean energy standard that rapidly replaces our combustion-based power sources with wind, solar, ocean, small-scale hydro, and geothermal power. Move decisively to an Energy System Based on Solar, Wind, Geo-Thermal, and other Cleaner Renewable Energy Sources.
Strengthen right-to-know laws so that everyone can discover what toxic or potentially toxic chemicals are used and released in their communities, and in products that they might purchase or use.
Hold corporations strictly liable for the consequences of the pollution they produce. End the use of incineration as a cleanup technology, and ensure that “cleanups” don’t simply relocate toxins to chemical waste dumps in poor communities.
Insist that every property right has an implied responsibility to provide for the common good of people and places. Encourage the formation and operation of cooperatives, non-profits, land trusts, co-housing, and other forms of communal and public interest management of land and resources.
Support the use of tax-exempt bonds to finance public ownership of utilities and to allow publicly owned utilities to finance conservation and renewable energy projects.