Author: adamsizemore11

Environmental Justice 499: Why It Matters to You

Environmental Justice 499: Why It Matters to You

Welcome back!

If you have followed my environmental blogs for the past couple of months, you will know we have been talking about Environmental Justice.  If you’re new and this is your first Environmental Justice blog STOP! GO BACK!  You are missing out!  Click here to find the previous blogs.  For those who have stuck with me during this discussion, think of this as a capstone; a finale to Environmental Justice (hence the 499…horrible joke).  Now, this does not mean all four blogs can tell you everything.  Heck, scholars and activists have studied this problem for the past 50 years, and there is still so much more to know and understand.  However, it is the conclusion for our Environmental Justice discussion, for now.  We may venture into grad school one day…Environmental Justice 600, 700, 800?

This month I want to bring it home by talking about why Environmental Justice matters to you.  Everyone is affected by an unhealthy environment; some populations just get it worse than others.  I could go on for hours on this subject, but for the sake of keeping it to the point I will limit its discussion to climate change.

Climate Change

Climate Change is the mother of all environmental issues.  It is the historical product of environmental dislocation.  In other words, it is the manifestation of all our problems.  Maybe I should write a blog on climate change?  For now, climate change poses challenges for everyone because, simply, it will affect….EVERYONE! What does this mean in respect to Environmental Justice? Well, everything.  First, marginalized populations are and will experience the effects of climate change worse.  Second, these populations host the stressors that is causing climate change.  Take coal mining for example.  Right now, Appalachians host this stressor and it is a huge contributor to climate change.  This will impact you.  How, you ask?

  • Shortage of clean water
  • Increase of allergies
  • Flooding
  • Less snow
  • Sea level rise
  • Less rain
  • Food shortages
  • Harsher weather
  • Wildfires
  • Increase of health problems
  • Less global ice

These problems will only get worse. Alongside the impacts of climate change, environmental justice matters to you because it is an ethical issue.  It is wrong.  Folks like Martin County do not deserve cloudy, brown, smelly water.  No one does.  How many of you remember NIMBY (‘not in my backyard) from the first blog? I once read an EJ researcher say, BANANA.  BANANA stands for “build absolutely nothing, anywhere, near anybody”.  Shouldn’t that be the goal?

Let’s all BANANA!

Come back to next month where I will be talking about environmental policy in Kentucky.

Until next time,


Environmental Justice: The Story of Martin County, Kentucky

Environmental Justice: The Story of Martin County, Kentucky

Hey, everyone!

How has everyone’s 2018 been so far? Our environment continues to be a pressing importance in my life and hopefully you are making it one in yours!

That being said, let’s keep talking about Environmental Justice in Appalachia!

Last month, I mentioned that this blog would be dedicated to a specific case example. One that is personal to me and has been making some news recently, is Martin County, Kentucky.

The story of Martin County is close to me because I have spent the past year studying the environmental injustices of this county for my dissertation research. What have I been doing and what’s going on with Martin County? First let’s get a baseline of the area.

Martin County is:

  • A Central Appalachian county of Kentucky that borders West Virginia.
  • Contains around 12,000 individuals.
  • Predominantly white (94 percent of the population).
  • The 115th poorest county in Kentucky.
    • The medium household income is around $25,000
    • 35 percent fall below the poverty level.
  • Where the War on Poverty was born.
  • A coal mining community.

Since coal mining is predominant in Martin County, their risk to environmental stressors is increased. Unfortunately this risk increased too far and in the fall of 2000 a disaster struck the county. One of the coal slurry impoundments broke, releasing over 300 million gallons of slurry in two hollows of Martin County: Coldwater and Wolf Creek.

What is “coal slurry?” It is the stuff that comes off coal after it’s washed. “Washed”? Why is coal being washed? Is it dirty? Well…yes! Before it is burned for energy purposes, it must be cleaned to rid various impurities, like soil and rock. The byproduct that comes off during this process is called “slurry” and it is housed in large dams call impoundments, like the one over Martin County.

Appalachian writer, Harry Caudill once said impoundments are “like a pool of gravy in a mound of mashed potato”. I really love that analogy. I feel like it gives a vivid picture of what these things are. It also gives you a good idea of what it looked like seeping into the community. The black gravy mixture contaminated local creeks, water sources, soil and killed aquatic life. For such a small community, tucked in the Appalachian Mountains, you might not think this was a big deal, but it was actually the worst environmental disaster in the southeast, exceeding the amount released from the Exxon Valdeez Oil Spill!

It was my goal to study the recovery of this disaster for my dissertation, so I started interviewing the people impacted. I soon learned that there is another environmental issue plaguing the county.  In a nutshell, their infrastructure is poor.

I found that:

  • Water lines were breaking, allowing contaminants to enter into the water source.
  • There is an average of 60 percent water loss across the county.
  • Their water smells, is discolored, and is reported to burn their skin.
  • No one drinks the water! Their source comes from bottled water.
  • People are organizing and trying to get a new water source for their community.
  • People are concerned over their health and community future.

You will probably hear more about Martin County and their struggles in the coming weeks and months as it is gaining more media attention day after day! I am not going into the details of why individuals believe their water system is inadequate; you will have to read my dissertation for that!

Regardless of the reason, this county experiences environmental stressors. It is truly unjust. The story of Martin County is a reminder that environmental stressors are not equally shared across populations!

Until next time,


Environmental Justice 356: Appalachia

Environmental Justice 356: Appalachia

Hello, again!

I hope everyone’s holiday season is going well and everyone is staying warm! As the year comes to end, I want to continue our discussion about Environmental Justice. If you missed last month’s blog, I wrote a very basic introduction to what Environmental Justice is and why it is a national problem; click here to read it, it is important for our “December talk”!

I plan for, at least a couple months, these blogs to build on one another. So, the next installment in Environmental Justice will be focused on Appalachia; think of it as “Environmental Justice 356”. Some of you not from the eastern side of the country may be asking yourself “App-a-what?” whereas others are wondering if I am pronouncing it as “App-ah-LATCH-ah” or “App-ah-LAY-CHA”.

So, what the heck is Appalachia?

  • A predominantly rural region of the U.S. consisting of 420 counties.
  • Stretches 205,000 square miles
  • Spans 13 states: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virgnia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.
  • It is broken up into 5 sub-regions: North, North Central, Central, South Central, and Southern.
  • All Kentucky counties are located in the Central sub-region.

So, why am I talking about Appalachia? For one, a part of it is located in the commonwealth. Also, last month, I discussed the role class plays into the location of environmental “bads”; reference the “race vs. class debate”. Appalachia, and particularly Central Appalachia, is extremely poor.

  • Central Appalachia is predominantly white.
  • As of 2017 Central Appalachia has:
    • The lowest mean ($47,152)
    • The lowest median household income ($33,956)
    • The highest percentage of those in poverty.
    • The highest percentage of individuals with less than a high school diploma.
    • The lowest percentage of those with a bachelor’s degree.
    • The highest percentage of those living with a disability.
  • It has the most amount of counties labeled distressed by the federal government; these are counties with the lowest economic stability.
    • There are a total of 49 distressed counties in Central Appalachia
    • 37 of which, are in Kentucky.

Okay, so what does all of this have to do with Environmental Justice? EVERYTHING! It is one of the central reasons environmental “bads” concentrate in Appalachia. You may be asking yourself, “I remember last week he mentioned waste facility sites, is that what he means? Is there an over concentration of those?” Well, I am sure Central Appalachia has their fair share of them, but no. Environmental “bads”, for Appalachia, exist primarily because of poor mining methods from the coal industry. Recall a blog I authored a couple months ago about how Limestone extraction needs to be done properly, the same goes for coal mining. This has existed in the sub-region for roughly 150 years (Do I hear an answer to the “chicken vs. the egg debate”?) Since its entrance into Central Appalachia, it has:

  • Created unsafe living and work conditions for miners and residents
  • Destroyed mountains
  • Caused large scale disasters
  • Polluted the air, water, and soil
  • Increased cancer rates, liver problems, and skin disorders
  • Reduced mortality rates, as well as overall quality of life.
  • Increased economic problems

Okay, okay, I know that was a lot to go over in such a short time! One blog can’t, and no pun intended, do environmental justice in Appalachia “justice”. I wanted to give each and every one of you a short introduction to environmental justice issues happening right within our state. Next month we will discuss a case example of a coal-caused environmental justice issue!

Until next time,


Environmental Justice 101

Environmental Justice 101

Hello, again!

As I’m sure you know, our environment is not always maintained as well as it should be (or if you don’t, welcome to reality). There are many environmental impacts that affect us in our every day lives, which put our health at risk. I’m hoping, since you are taking the time to read this blog, you know that we should, and must, be more conscience of these impacts and make efforts to improve them. However, did you know these risks are unequally shared across race and class? Some of you may be asking yourselves now, “What do you mean, unequally shared?” or “What does race or class have to do with anything”. These are the questions I hope to answer for you. I also hope to give you a better understanding of the injustices that often get looked over and are not always brought to light by the media and/or politicians (which, face it, that’s where most of us get our news whether we like it or not).

Environmental Justice:

  • Things like hazardous plants, pollution, and contamination are disproportionately located in black and poor communities.
  • This spawned an area of research and social movement aimed at addressing these inequities: Environmental Justice.
  • It advocates that all people and communities, regardless of their race or class status, are entitled to a healthy environment, as well as equal protection of environmental laws and regulations.
  • Click here for the 17 guiding principles of environmental justice!
  • There are two main debates with environmental justice: race vs. class and the chicken and the egg.

“Race vs. Class Debate”

  • Debates whether race or class is a better predictor of “environmental bads”.
  • Answering this debate is complicated because race and class connected.
  • Poor racially concentrated communities are the best predictors.
  • This occurs wherever people have the least amount of power, called “the path of least resistance”.
  • Occurs in poor black communities, as well as poor white communities.
  • This rarely occurs in rich white communities.

“The Chicken and The Egg”

  • Debates whether the “environmental bad” or the people came first into a community.
  • This assumes only one form of discrimination: the environmental bad moving in.
  • If people move into a contaminated community, it is discrimination too because those of a lower socioeconomic status are often forced into them.
  • NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) is the act of rich white folks opposing environmental bads.
  • NIMBY acts concentrate these into marginalized communities!

I can’t stress to you enough how difficult it is for me to provide an introduction of environmental justice, alongside the two debates, in such a short blog! There are so many components to environmental justice that warrant their own blogs! In the coming months I plan on discussing many of these with you because it is a highly important topic to discuss, as well as a crucial component to environmentalism. In the mean time, I encourage each and every one of you to think about something in a community that negatively impacts the environment (power plant, factory etc.) around you. Then, ask yourself, where are these located?

Until next time!





Looking to get involved? Environmentalism in Kentucky!

Looking to get involved? Environmentalism in Kentucky!

Hello, again everyone!

As many of you know, one component to Friends of Limestone’s mission is environmental awareness and education. As their environmental blogger, I like discussing environmental issues with you, such as conservation/preservation, environmental impacts of limestone extraction, sustainability, and even, more recently, recreation (have you visited any of those lakes yet?). This week I decided it might be interesting if we talked about other organizations, within Kentucky, that do environmental work. This way, if you are an environmental advocate, like myself, you can become more involved! Believe it or not, there are actually a lot of environmental organizations in Kentucky, so, I have decided to simplify it and include only three. Let’s begin!

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth

If you are from and/or live in Kentucky, you more than likely have heard about Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC)! This organization has been an established organization for 35 years in Kentucky. Their work focuses on grassroots building and empowering individuals to engage alongside their work. They currently have over 10,000 members and local chapters across the entire state! KFTC’s work focuses on four categories: coal and water, economic justice, new energy and transition, and voting rights. They advocate that social, environmental, and economic issues are related with one another, meaning we can’t talk about one area without talking about the others. However, let’s only talk about their environmental work for now.

  • They campaign and raise awareness of the impacts of coal mining in Eastern Kentucky.
  • They seek a just transition for Appalachia.
  • Lobbying for environmental policy is their game!
  • They campaign for moving Kentucky away from those nasty fossil fuels.
  • Sustainability initiatives of all types.
  • Join them!

Kentucky Environmental Foundation           

The Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF) was established in 1990. The organization was born out of opposition towards the disposal of chemical weapons right here in the commonwealth. They helped lead a grassroots movement focused on ensuring safe and environmentally responsible disposal methods. This campaign laid the foundations for the organization today! Today, they focus on a wide range of environmental research/education and getting folks together around environmental issues. So, what do they offer you?

  • An annual report detailing their work, as well as other highlights in Ky. Think of it as annual KEF 101.
  • A lot of information! They research and write countless reports on various issues.
  • A blog page discussing countless topics (they even have one discussing the chemicals in your furniture!).
  • A Mailing list so you can stay up to date on their work.
  • Check them out!

Sierra Club

You may be thinking “Wait, is he talking about the Sierra Club, the oldest national environmental organization founded by John Muir on May 28, 1892 that currently has over 2.4 million members? They are based out of Oakland, California!” If you are thinking this then you are correct…you also know a lot about the Sierra Club! I am impressed! Did you know the Sierra Club operates right here in Kentucky, as well? You didn’t?? They have a local chapter in Whitesburg, Ky (The Cumberland Chapter) and many other groups scattered across the state. So what can the Sierra Club do for you?

  • A lot of information! I mean a lot.
  • Membership and action
  • Community
  • Recreation
  • Many programs!
  • Go visit their page!

I know, I know, I didn’t even scratch the surface of environmental organizations in Kentucky. I hope this discussion has sparked your interest to join an organization and/or find some information that is useful for you. Is there an organization I missed that you believe should have been on here? Let me know!

Until next time,


My Favorite Lakes In (and around) Kentucky

My Favorite Lakes In (and around) Kentucky

Hello, all!

Last month my blog focused on the sustainable extraction of limestone. I wanted to make this month’s blog a little more fun and personal. So, we are going to talk about my favorite lakes in (and around) Kentucky. I know…I know…. it is officially fall. Why in the world am I blogging about lakes? Well, for one, you can always plan for next summer! Second, you can still enjoy our lakes in the fall and winter months. The cold weather should never stop you from enjoying what nature has to offer!

Cave Run:

Let’s start with one close to home for me. A little over 15 miles from my hometown of Morehead, Ky is Cave Run Lake. It is located in Rowan, Morgan, Menifee, and Bath County. I grew up visiting, hiking, swimming, camping, and fishing here and continue to visit every chance I get. What I love most about Cave Run is, even on extremely busy days, you can always find peace and quiet. What else does the lake have to offer?

  • Camp at Twin Knobs and Zilpo.
  • Put your boat in at 12 different locations.
  • Picnic all over.
  • Swim at two managed swimming beaches: The Beach (located in Twin Knobs) and. Or, swim wherever you like! I suggest Windy Bay and Billy Branch.
  • Try out your “lake legs” at Cave Run Marinas.
  • Hike!
  • Fish for Bass, Catfish, Bluegill, Walleye, etc. Musky fishing is very popular here!
  • Eat at Pops BBQ
  • Attend the annual Storytelling Festival the 29th and 30th of September…you still have time to make it this year!

Norris Lake:

I spent a weekend at Norris Lake with a group of friends a couple years ago. Since then, I have always wanted to plan another trip. Norris Lake is in Tennessee; located a little over an hour from Pineville, Ky. I choose to include it in this blog because, in my experience, the lake is relatively unknown and it is close enough to Ky. I fell in love with Norris Lake immediately due to its seclusion and small size. So, why Norris Lake?

  • Over 20 Marinas!
  • Camp at Norris Dam State Park Campground
  • Water Skiing. I “attempted” it…. and failed.
  • Fish for Bass, Crappie, and Walleye.
  • Over 16 restaurants…many of which are at Marinas.
  • And obviously, swimming and hiking trails.

Cumberland Lake:

Over this past summer, I had to the opportunity to spend a couple days at Cumberland Lake, located in the southeastern part of the commonwealth. However, this was the only time I have been there. So, my knowledge of Cumberland Lake is limited. The short time I was there, I really enjoyed what the lake had to offer.

  • I remember thinking every person there, but me, was on a boat. There are boat rentals all over!
  • Our lodging was through a local cabin company. There are many…many more.
  • I suggest spending time on Cumberland River, as well.
  • Do I even need to say this? Lodging, food, fishing, hiking, and swimming.
  • If you’re a coffee drinker, try Baxter Coffee.


I think I see a pattern with my favorites. They are all relatively located on the eastern side of the state. Maybe I need to visit some lakes on the western side next year. Any suggestions?

What is your favorite lake? Let me know in the comments!




Limestone, Extraction, and the Environment

Limestone, Extraction, and the Environment

Let’s talk about Limestone.  Limestone is a sedimentary rock and the leading stone extracted and processed in the United States.  Out of all stone mining in the U.S., limestone accounts for roughly 42%.  It is extremely functional, as it is primarily used in the construction industry.  However, it has many uses!

You interact with limestone on a daily basis and you may not even know it.

  • It is used to make the paper you just wasted after trying for the 100th time to operate the office copier.
  • The plastic bag you used to carry a pack of gum out of Kroger.
  • The glass jar of outdated pickles in the back of your refrigerator.
  • The paint on your wall…and, if you did the paint job, possibly on your floor too.
  • The carpet in your house that you keep forgetting to vacuum.
  • The overly priced bottle of water you purchased at Speedway.
  • The food in your 4 for 4 at Wendy’s.

Let us not forget the horses and mint juleps we like to watch/drink on Derby Day!

Have you ever wondered how we extract it? Probably not, so here we go.  The majority is mined through a process called surface mining (some extraction is done through underground methods).  Surface mining mines from the top down, not the bottom up.  In respect to limestone, the process is referred to as quarrying.  Quarrying involves the removal of earth and stone piece by piece with heavy machinery and small explosives.   The end result is a large open pit (quarry).  Once completed, the stone goes to a processing plant.

You may be thinking, “oh, yeah, that’s what those giant holes in the earth are called!”.  Have you ever thought about the environmental impacts from “those giant holes in the earth”? Again, probably not.

If not conducted properly quarrying can have negative environmental impacts.  These include:

  • The removal of trees, vegetated areas, soil, and habitat loss required for many species to live.
  • Contamination of local water sources.
  • Acid mine drainage
  • The use of large amounts of water.
  • The creation of wastewater.
  • Air and soil pollution from heavy machinery.

All pose negative health risks for humans, non-animal species, and nature.

In a previous blog I discussed the importance of conservation and preservation.  Another crucial component is sustainability.  Sustainability is a principle that seeks to maintain the balance for both future and present species/generations.  If we are unable to find and maintain this balance, future generations will feel the impacts.  Limestone extraction is not immune.  Alongside practicing conservation and preservation to our limestone reserves, we also need to make certain our extraction methods are sustainable for our present and future generations, as well as the natural environment…and for the 4 for 4 at Wendy’s!