Teri Blanton: "American people need to know that the EPA has cooked the books to justify its decision to repeal "

Portrait of Teri Blanton from Robert Shetterly's series, "Americans Who Tell The Truth."


Yesterday, while I was writing about retired miner Stanley Sturgill and his testimony against repeal of the Clean Power Plan, I looked at the list of the folks who had signed up to speak.  There, almost at the top of the list of speakers for 11/29 was my friend Teri Blanton, former chairperson of Kentuckians for The Commonwealth.  I wrote her last night and asked if she would share her comments here.


My name is Teri Blanton. I am a Kentuckian. I grew up in Harlan County, in the heart of our Appalachian mountains. My community today is a toxic mess, poisoned by acid mine drainage, coal slurry, and industrial waste. After more than a century of mining coal, we remain one of the poorest and least healthy counties in America. Harlan County has been losing coal jobs for decades. First the industry replaced miners with explosives. Lately mining jobs have fallen off a cliff due to competition from cheaper energy. Most of us understand those jobs are never coming back.

Despite this hard reality, good people are coming together in Harlan County and all across Central Appalachia to build a brighter future. Our people have been producing energy for this nation for over 100 years. We’re proud of our heritage. But there is no reason we should stay stuck in time as the world changes. Why shouldn’t eastern Kentucky be in the forefront of a clean energy revolution? Why shouldn’t we seize this moment to create jobs in wind, solar and hydropower? Appalachian people are resourceful, skilled, and hardworking. We can put our communities back to work – today – by making our homes energy efficient and installing small-scale renewable energy systems. That’s true energy independence. This EPA climate plan can and should do much more to help us make this transition to a clean energy economy.

I’m also a grandmother to three wonderful grandchildren. My family lives within 40 miles of 3 coal burning power plants in Kentucky. All 3 of my grandchildren suffer from asthma or other COPD related illness. For us this debate is not just about reducing the threat of climate change. It is also about reducing exposure to toxic pollution from burning coal that contributes to high rates of asthma, premature death, and chronic heart and lung diseases all across KY. This EPA Clean Power Plan can and should do much more to protect our health and the health of all people living in frontline communities where dirty energy is extracted and burned.

I am sickened by the shameful, harmful, and corrupt actions of the EPA under President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Your decisions to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord and repeal the Clean Power Plan are indefensible. Undoing the Clean Power Plan threatens the health and safety of our communities, families, and economy. It flies in the face of science and common sense.

The American people need to know that the EPA has cooked the books to justify its decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan. For example, the EPA under President Trump and Scott Pruitt refuse to accept overwhelming health data that reducing soot and smog from coal burning power plants will prevent thousands of premature deaths and asthma attacks. Instead, the agency has embraced a false theory that there are threshold levels of air pollution below which it is “safe” for us to breathe. With this wave of a magic wand, the agency claims that the Clean Power Plan would produce no health benefits. But we know the opposite is true. The costs of complying with the Clean Power Plan are far outweighed by the benefits in terms of lives saved and sick days and hospitalizations avoided.

We should be talking about ways to strengthen the Clean Power Plan, not scrap it. This rule is the very least that this country should do to protect the health of people living in frontline communities and reduce the risks of global climate disruption. The fact is, the Clean Power Plan was never strong enough. But it was a start. It was designed to encourage states and utilities to plan for and begin a gradual transition to low-carbon energy systems. It gave states flexibility and time to find their best path forward.

When Scott Pruitt announced his decision to seek the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, he came to Hazard, Kentucky and promised that this action was going to bring back coal jobs. What a pathetic lie. The Clean Power Plan has never been implemented due to legal challenges. It is responsible for exactly zero lost coal jobs in Central Appalachia, and its repeal will do nothing to bring new investment or jobs to our region.

My friends, family, and neighbors know that coal is not coming back. And we’re so damn tired of politicians who endlessly fight a fictional war-on-coal but refuse to support or invest in actual solutions that could help our people.

So in 2015, a grassroots organization called Kentuckians For The Commonwealth decided that if our politicians wouldn’t lift a finger to begin planning for how to comply with the Clean Power Plan, we’d do it ourselves. We led an 18-month public planning process. More than 1,200 Kentuckians participated from Pikeville to Paducah. We asked everyone to share their vision for Kentucky’s energy future, and their best ideas for moving in that direction without leaving people or workers behind. We did an environmental justice analysis of our state to learn which communities are most affected by cumulative pollution and poor health outcomes, and to better understand the relationships between poverty, race, and exposure to pollution in our state.

Then with all of that input we designed a plan we call the Empower Kentucky Plan. You can view all of the recommendations and a description of our process at www.empowerkentucky.org. It is loaded with homegrown solutions to protect health, create jobs, lower people’s energy bills and shape a just transition to a cleaner energy system in Kentucky.

Here’s what you need to know about the Empower Kentucky Plan: Our plan produces better results for Kentuckians in terms of jobs, health, and lower average bills than the business-as-usual scenario. Specifically, our plan would create 46,300 more net jobs over 15 years and lower average home energy bills by 10%, compared to business-as-usual. And it would slash CO2 pollution from Kentucky’s power sector by 40% over 15-years, far exceeding the requirements of the Clean Power Plan.

In other words, our People’s Energy Plan for Kentucky exposes Scott Pruitt’s Big Lie. The Empower Kentucky Plan shows that the steps needed to address climate change are actually better for jobs and ratepayers – and much better for health – than sticking our heads in the sand and doing nothing. And if we can do that in Kentucky, we can do it everywhere.

I therefore urge the EPA to follow the science and reject the corrupting influence of the fossil fuel industry. Drop this awful proposal. Defend and implement the Clean Power Plan. Return to the Paris Accord. Do your job.

We must do everything possible to protect our health and climate. For the sake of my grandchildren, and all of our children and grandchildren, the EPA has got to get this one right. We have got to get this one right.


BTW, Related to the Empower Kentucky plan, see MACED's How$martKY project, highlighted by Anthony Flaccavento at the Indivisible New River Valley meeting November 13 on Bottom Up Economy. Six rural utility cooperatives in Eastern Kentucky (Big Sandy RECCFleming-Mason RECCGrayson RECCFarmers RECCJackson Energy and Licking Valley) are teaming up with MACED (Mountain Association for Community Economic Developmentto provide energy retrofits as part of utility service under the KY Energy Retrofit Rider.

Flaccavento has announced his bid for the Democratic Party nomination for the 9th U.S. Congressional District in 2018, the seat currently held by Morgan Griffith. (website)


Stanley Sturgill on Our Health: "Scott Pruitt and President Trump are accelerating and cheering on the damage"

Photo by Chris Dorst of the Charleston Gazette-Mail via the Associated Press, as it appeared in Brady Dennis's (twitter) 11/28/17 Washington Post story, "In the heart of coal country, EPA gets an earful about Clean Power Plan’s fate."  Caption:  "Lindsay Pace, of Chattanooga, Tenn., testifies as retired coal miner and mine inspector Stanley Sturgill holds her son, Theo, during an Environmental Protection Agency public hearing Tuesday in Charleston, W. Va., on Tuesday. Both spoke against repealing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan." 

Our friend and my hero Stanley Sturgill, age 72, who mined coal for forty years in Kentucky, drove to Charleston, West Virginia to testify before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (a misnomer under this administration) 11/28/17 on what he thinks of Scott Pruitt's proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan.  Below, you'll see how you can participate and how I learned of his testimony on 11/29/17 and first posted on 11/29/17, but first, here's Stanley's complete statement, which he provided to me via email on 12/1/17.  This post was last updated on 12/1/17 at 10:55 am.

My name is Stanley Sturgill and I live in Lynch, Kentucky located in Harlan County KY. I’m a 72 year old coal miner with 41 year’s of service to the underground mining industry. I have “black lung” and COPD.

In July, 2014 I traveled over 1300 miles to Denver Colorado, to speak at an EPA hearing and I told the EPA at that time I had “black lung” and other respiratory problems. I must stay inside most all the time. Emissions from coal fired power plants and other airborne pollutants across my state of Kentucky were affecting, not only my health, but the public’s health too. I told the EPA, “Do your job and protect our people and our health.” I told the EPA, “We’re dying, literally dying for you to help us.” That was 2014.

Well guess what? You didn’t help us. You didn’t do your job and now you say you are withdrawing the “Clean Power Plan,” the past administration put into place on August 3rd 2015, to try helping us and our climate, so I’m back to let you know, nothing has changed, “We’re still dying, we’re still literally dying for you to help us.”

I would like for the EPA to show me in your new plans to gut the EPA and destroy our climate just how many people must pay the supreme price of “death” for a few, rich, greedy people to bank roll a few more dollars? Can you honestly answer that question? I’d like to know.

You may be wondering why my wife and I would get up at 3 this morning and drive several hours from Harlan County Kentucky to Charleston? It’s plain and simple, we may be old but we still love living. We both know that living in the far southeastern tip of Kentucky, all the polluting, emissions from electrical power plants (no matter if coal, gas, oil, etc.) are a part of the air we breathe each day. The jet-stream moves across our state from “WEST” to “EAST” we live 6 miles from the Virginia border, so we get all the pollution.

Actually the state of Kentucky (according to a Jan. 2016 report/alternative daily) is #3 in a “top 10” list of most polluted states in America. But, even more pollution to choke on each day is the fact Kentucky borders many of the other top ten list of most polluted states. #9-Illinois; #6-West Virginia; #4-Tennessee; #2-Ohio; and the #1-most polluted state in the U.S. Indiana.
We need the EPA’s immediate help and not their abandonment?

Now to be realistic, do I really think that this administration cares what this old worn coal miner has to say? I don’t know. I really doubt it. But I had to be here and as long as I can draw a breath I’m going to keep working to fight climate change and protect the land and country I love.
Our health, environment and global climate are actively being destroyed. And it is clear to me that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and President Trump are accelerating and cheering on the damage. I have come here today to ask you to stop. For the sake of my grandchildren and yours, I call on you to strengthen and defend, not repeal, the Clean Power Plan.

There is an old Appalachian saying, “What we do to the land, we do to the people.” EPA, just look at West Virginiaand the surrounding states as you travel back to D.C. and you’ll see we’ve paid a terrible price in the miles of destroyed mountains, our streams, in our health, and in our declining economy.

Believe it or not “Climate Change” is real and it’s not only costing billions in dollars in public health challenges, it’s also destroying our nation and our world right in front of our of our eyes. This year, 2017, will most likely be a prime example due to the many hurricanes, fires and rains wreaking death and havoc as never before.

In conclusion, I’m here to say that repealing the Clean Power Plan is immoral and indefensible. I respectfully demand that the EPA withdraw this proposal. Stop listening to the corrupting power of the coal, gas, oil and all other fossil fuel industries. Start following the science and common sense, and do everything possible to protect our health and climate.

EPA, please never forget this old Cree Indian Proverb: “When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned. Only then will you realize you cannot eat money.


Ken Ward Jr. shared an announcement 11/2/17 in the Charleston Gazette-Mail that  as part of the formal process for repealing the Clean Power Plan, the EPA  announced that date that it would hold hearings yesterday and today in Charleston, WV and maybe 11/30, if the agency receives “a high volume” of requests to speak. The speakers list is here for 11/28 and here for 11/29, with time set aside after these speakers for others who wished to comment and present supporting information.

Scott Pruitt signed the notice 3/28/17, indicating the EPA’s intent to review the plan, following Trumps's Energy Independence Executive Order the same date.  The details can be found in the 10/16 Federal Register and at the EPA webpage for the proposed repeal.for doing that, the agency.  If you did not attend the public hearing, your written statements and supporting information will be considered with the same weight, so long as they are submitted during the public comment period which was extended on 11/8 to 1/16/18. Comments should be identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0355 and may be submitted by one of the methods listed here.  The online comment form is here.  The website indicates that as of 11:59 PM on November 28, the website had received  For more information contact Peter Tsirigotis, Sector Policies and Programs Division (D205-01), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711; telephone number: (888) 627-7764; email address: airaction@epa.gov.


I first saw that Stanley had testified in Charleston 11/28 through the Washington Post story, which I read via Roy Silver of the Appalnet list serve.  The author, Brady Dennis, is a national reporter for The Washington Post, focusing on the environment and public health issues. Before that he covered the economy and was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for a series of explanatory stories about the financial crisis. Before that, he was a reporter for the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Through an image search and some sleuthing, I also found the AP story by John Raby (twitter) and Michael Biesecker (twitter), which was the source for the photo: "EPA hears worries about climate in heart of coal country." It appeared without a byline in Chattanooga's Times Free Press.  

Environment and Energy Publishing's hub on the Power Plan is here.

Although I didn't initially find Ken Ward, Jr,'s story on the hearings, I checked his twitter feed and found a link to a story he posted "EPA greenhouse gas rule hearing in WV draws supporters, opponents," on 11/28.


Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Toasted Pecans with Maple Miso Dijon Dressing

The photo was at the website for Bon App├ętit Magazine -- no photographer credited. *
Ooh. This looked good. So I made up a recipe, even though my recipe duties are done for Glade Road Growing are done for the year and my Brussels sprouts from Catawba Valley Farms are long gone since 
Leighton Hodges stops bringing produce to the Blacksburg Farmers Market in October.


Serves 6

½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1½ pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, halved (about 30)
6 TB extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 TB Dijon mustard
1 TB miso
1 TB maple syrup
1 TB balsamic vinegar

1. Toast pecans in a single layer until fragrant in a small dry cast iron skillet that has been heated until a bead of water will evaporate. Let cool.

2. Toss Brussels sprouts in 3 TB oil. Arrange sprouts, cut sides down, on baking sheet (or in stainless steel steamer basket if using a countertop convection over and roast until tender

3. Meanwhile,, whisk mustard, miso, maple syrup, and vinegar in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in remaining 3 Tbsp. oil until dressing is thick and emulsified, then whisk in wate. a little at a time, to thin. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Once Brussels sprouts are cool enough to handle, transfer to a platter and drizzle with miso dressing. Top with toasted pecans.