Sacrifice zones are areas that have been ravaged in the name of profit. Destroyed thoroughly, these places suffer in ways that you wouldn’t expect. Their sense of community, environmental health, human welfare and economic context are all affected. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that our beautiful home state of Kentucky harnesses one of the hardest hit sacrifice zones around: our Eastern Kentucky coalfields.

Our coalfields have been completely neglected by not only the resource extraction industry, but our very own government. With unemployment mounting, and communities and families continuing to struggle, there’s finally a glimmer of hope.

President Obama has proposed a $1 billion lifeline for Eastern Kentucky and other distressed coal impacted communities in Appalachia. Emphasizing on cleaning up abandoned strip mines, capturing carbon pollution from power plants, protecting retired coal miners and uplifting local entrepreneurs. Revitalizing the Appalachian economy has never seemed so attainable.

Whether his budget proposal is approved or not, President Obama has done something truly admirable. He listened to the needs of people in individual communities. He didn’t paste some cookie cutter solution onto Appalachia like many presidents have tried and failed to do. Recognizing that we’re a region with unique problems and that we need a unique set of solutions was such a vital step to the Just Transition movement in Eastern Kentucky.

With someone as powerful as our president addressing the real issues in the area, a new light has been shed on Kentucky as well as the rest of Appalachia. This level of support for our communities in transition is exactly what the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition’s new just transition working group expects to see from our local government as well. Hope has been restored and we’ve never been given such an exciting opportunity to move forward.

Angel Hill

Eastern Student

Kentucky Student

Environmental Coalition