Clinton praises sustainability efforts of Fayette County students

04/24/2012 07:00 AM

‘Sustainability is good economic policy’ was the mantra on Monday when former President Bill Clinton visited Lexington, and spoke to 4,000 Fayette County students at Rupp Arena.

The visit all started with an email in October from Henry Clay High School senior Jane Brady Knight who asked the president to speak to the Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council, an organization across Fayette County Schools aimed at encouraging students to conserve energy and reuse as much as possible to be environmentally and fiscally stingy.

President Clinton told the crowd that his main focus since leaving the presidency has been his foundation which seeks to protect the environment, strengthen economies, and improve global health. Clinton told the group of students and parents that the reason he came to Lexington is to speak to these students because, “this is the only county in America where are all the high schools have joined together to do anything like this,” referring to the Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council.

“Don’t say these are a bunch of idealistic kids, they’re on to something. This is good economics,” the former president told the crowd. “Changing the way we produce and consume energy and deal with local resources is the single most important thing we can do to create jobs in America today.”

Clinton explained how sustainability can be used to boost the economy and create new jobs.

By building a new power plant using coal or nuclear power that would create 800-900 jobs for every billion dollars spent versus retrofitting every school, college, and local government building in Kentucky with sustainable energy sources would employ 7,000 people per every $1 billion spent. But Clinton said, that’s the problem with sustainability – the costs are up front, but the benefits take place over years.

The event brought out several big names, including Gov. Steve Beshear, Congressman Ben Chandler and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Agriculture Commissioner James Comer spoke highly of President Clinton’s time in office – even though Comer is a Republican.

“I’m going to welcome him to Kentucky and hope he’s going to enjoy the Kentucky proud lunch he’s going to have here,” Comer said when asked what he would say to the former president when they met.


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