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Kentucky Resources Council, PO Box 1070, Frankfort, KY 40602 Phone [502] 875-2428

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PO Box 1070, Frankfort, KY 40602  Phone 502.875.2428, Fax 502.875.2845

KRC Director resigns two Beshear Administration board appointments  Posted: December 2, 2011

December 2, 2011

Hon. Steve Beshear
Governor
State Capitol
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
By e-mail

Dear Governor Beshear:

I am writing to inform you of my decision, effectively immediately, to step down from my appointments to the Kentucky Environmental Education Council and the Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship. While it has been a privilege to have served as a Board member for the Council and the Center, and while I am most appreciative of the opportunity that you gave me to serve in both of those capacities, I cannot in good conscience continue to serve as your appointee to either Board in light of the current Administration’s environmental and energy policies.

The serial budgetary reductions in general funds for environmental protection programs, which over the course of the last four years have amounted to some 26%, have placed a tremendous strain on the administration and enforcement of core air, water and waste programs, and continue to compromise the ability to properly implement programs for which Kentucky sought delegation and to which Kentucky committed it would provide sufficient funding. That programs intended to protect the building blocks of a healthy commonwealth and economy – the air, land, and water resources – are not considered by your Administration to be priorities with respect to allocating budget decisions, is of grave concern. That only one of those programs (Title V air permits) collects from regulated sources the fees necessary to offset the cost of regulation, leaving the taxpayers to subsidize other pollution control programs through general funds, is indefensible.

The recent firing of the Department for Natural Resources Commissioner brought into sharp relief my growing concern that the Administration has lost its bearing regarding regulation of the coal industry. The promise made by Congress to the residents of the coalfields in 1977 that they would be fully protected from the adverse effects of coal mining, that the land would be contemporaneously reclaimed and the footprint of mining minimized, has yet to be kept, and the removal of the Commissioner at a time when his office was attempting to increase reclamation bonds to appropriate levels (despite resistance within the industry), to implement the cumulative hydrologic impact assessment process properly for the first time in 29 years, and to stem the disturbing trend of towards greater numbers of violations within the coal industry (the rate of industry compliance in FY 2010 was the lowest since 1990), is disturbing.

It has been an honor to be a member of the Board of the Kentucky Environmental Education Council, which plays a critical role in elevating environmental literacy in the Commonwealth, yet has suffered budget reductions that if left unremedied will weaken its ability to do so. The Board and staff of the Council are remarkable and are dedicated to fulfilling the Council’s mission. I will continue to support the mission of the Council, and would encourage your Administration to restore the funding that has been diverted from the Council.

The Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship has, unfortunately, done little since its establishment other than adopting operating procedures, and the goals set out by the General Assembly for that Center remain almost entirely unmet. That the current Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary indicated at the last Board meeting he would not participate in a proposed strategic planning process through which the Board might focus on how to achieve the mission envisioned for it by the legislature, suggests to me that absent a greater degree of independence in funding and Board management, the Center will play a marginal role in helping to move Kentucky towards a sustainable energy future.

In closing, I thank you for the opportunity to have served on the Boards of the Kentucky Environmental Education Council, and the Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship.

Cordially,


Tom FitzGerald
Director

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