Environmentalists to demonstrate at U. Kentucky basketball game

  • Environmentalist student group upset over use of coal severance taxes used to fund basketball arena renovations

A group of environmentalist student activists will demonstrate at the University of Kentucky (UK) men’s basketball game on Friday night, in protest of coal industry taxes being used to fund renovations in the Rupp Arena, Campus Reform has learned.

According to local affiliate Fox 19, the protest is part of a weeklong series of demonstrations from November 4-11 around the state by the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition (KSEC) to raise awareness to environmental issues.

KSEC spokesperson Cara Cooper told Campus Reform by email on Thursday that the group is protesting the use of coal severance taxes for arena renovations.

“The cause of the protest is to raise awareness around coal severance tax money being used by the state for renovations to the Rupp Arena rather than that money going to communities impacted by coal mining,” she wrote.

According to a June report by Kentucky.com, the coal severance tax is collected from coal companies based in Kentucky and is generally used to help revitalize the economy in the mining counties.

Kentucky.com also reported that Governor Beshear allocated $2.5 million from coal severance tax funds in the 2012 budget to fund the renovation of the Rupp Arena, which is not located in a mining district.

Cooper told Campus Reform her group has started a petition to raise awareness about the use of the coal severance tax funds.

“We are collecting petitions to show that Kentuckians want the coal severance tax money to go to the impacted communities rather than used for frivolous projects, like Rupp Arena renovations,” she added.

The group’s petition has been posted on moveon.org, and currently has eight signatures out of a goal of fifty.

The UK athletic department did not return a call for comment from Campus Reform in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @TimPDion

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