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Trump takes the gloves off versus Kavanaugh accusers. Also on the Wednesday rundown: rural areas reap benefits from Medicaid expansion; a two-generation approach to helping young Louisiana parents; and a new documentary on the impact of climate change in North Carolina.

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Sierra Club Chief: "Dramatic" Turning Point in Climate Change Battle

The global climate change deal reached over the weekend in Paris is expected to impact the future of Kentucky's coal-based economy. (Greg Stotelmyer)
The global climate change deal reached over the weekend in Paris is expected to impact the future of Kentucky's coal-based economy. (Greg Stotelmyer)
December 14, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The head of the Sierra Club says the new climate agreement among 196 countries, including the United States, is a "dramatic turning point" in the fight against global warming.

Michael Brune, who was in Paris as the historic deal was finalized over the weekend, predicts the plan will change the economic future of the Appalachian coal region.

"What we will see is a similar rate at which those fuels are becoming less of the foundation of our economy, and solar and wind taking up a larger share," he stated.

The focal point of the climate deal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is expected to trigger a fundamental change in how energy is produced and consumed.

In coal-dependent Kentucky, resistance from industry and political leaders continues.

On its Facebook page, the Kentucky Coal Association posted that while the climate conference is over, "the fight at home is just beginning."

Speaking from Paris, the Brune said the accord signals an increased level of ambition to do more.

"To be clear, this fight isn't over,” he said. “We're not even close to doing what's needed, but we've made more progress in the last several weeks than has ever been made before."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan "anti-middle class," claiming the next president could, in McConnell's words, "simply tear it up."

Brune says the challenge for the U.S. is to make its energy transition in a way that honors the contributions that coal, oil and gas dependent regions have made to the country's economy.

"How do we make sure that those workers and those communities are part of a clean energy economy?” he questions. “We know that the world can't continue to build fossil fuels. But, we also know that we can't simply transition to clean energy without being thoughtful about the economic ramifications of that transition."

McConnell maintains the Clean Power Plan could result in elimination of as many as a quarter-million U.S. jobs.


Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY