“Flash floods have troubled Kentucky for decades. Now, extreme rainstorms are worsening with climate change, increasing the odds of more disasters like the one Bentley’s community endured. For Kentucky’s poorest residents, the people living in flood-prone hollows with surface mines nearby, that means an ever-present threat to both life and hard-won possessions. But the state isn’t on the front lines of the fight against global warming. Its leaders, concerned about the impact on coal, have positioned themselves on the other side of that battle. That’s created a dangerous and expensive disconnect — and not just in Kentucky, a Center for Public Integrity analysis shows.
This story is the first in a series about the insufficient protections for vulnerable people as natural disasters worsen in a warming climate. The Center for Public Integrity and four partners — the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, High Country News, Ohio Valley ReSource and StateImpact Oklahoma – are contributing stories. Nine of the 10 states that emit the most heat-trapping carbon dioxide pollution per person helped block the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which would have been the largest effort by the U.S. government to limit climate change. Four of those states, including Kentucky, were among those most often hit by disasters in the past 10 years — generally powerful storms, which science shows are worsening as the planet warms. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it sent nearly $2 billion in taxpayer aid to those four states over the same period to clean up and prepare for future hits. That accounts for two of FEMA’s major programs, just part of the disaster aid flowing to states….”