Launched with $15 million in coal severance tax revenue and a promise to transfer $7.5 million in each fiscal year, the Kentucky Coal Fields Endowment Fund is an incredible step toward economic transition.
However, as someone from the eastern part of the state, I worry that this money will be squandered, as we’ve done with coal severance tax dollars in the past, on projects that don’t actually yield a diverse, stable economy.
There aren’t a lot of options for holding public officials accountable for allocating these funds in ways that will help our communities thrive. This is an injustice. These communities sacrificed so much so that we could have an affordable source of energy and we aren’t even giving them choices in how the money meant to transition their economy is being used.
This has to change. We need a community-involved process to ensure the allocations from this fund and ones like it are used responsibly.
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I’m still in college but would like to return to Eastern Kentucky afterward, and I hope this money is used to make my home a diverse, community-driven place that my generation can come home to and actually find a job.
Ky. Student Environmental Coalition