Lexington Launches Priority Climate Action Plan, Including Jessamine County

Published 3:32 pm Thursday, March 28, 2024

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Lexington submitted the Priority Climate Action Plan to the federal Environment Protection Agency (EPA) in February. This plan is funded under the Climate Pollution Reduction Grant awarded to the Lexington-Fayette Metropolitan area.

Lexington will administer the funds to support the whole region, including Jessamine, Clark, Bourbon, Scott, and Woodford counties, along with the municipalities within them. 

The plan aims to reduce pollution and emissions, invest in sustainable infrastructure, technologies, and practices, build the economy, and enhance the quality of life throughout Central Kentucky. View the plan in its entirety here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kYqiENeI6vGAcd4FlVdF85QLQN61IWqq/view?pli=1

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The plan proposes projects focusing on trees, solar energy, weatherization, and transportation. These proposals build on existing efforts with a proven track record in Fayette County. 

A public input hybrid meeting was held on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, for resident input, and a survey was available from Feb. 15 through Feb. 20. A public meeting was also held in Nicholasville.

Like leaders in other counties, Nicholasville Mayor Alex Carter has been working closely with Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton. 

According to Mayor Carter, Nicholasville, and Jessamine County will likely focus on increasing the tree canopy and electric vehicle charging stations. “Those seem to be the primary interest in Nicholasville and Jessamine County, so I think that’s where we’ll focus our energy.”

According to Steven Pracht, Nicholasville’s Grants Administrator, the tree canopy score is measured by an equity score put out by American Forests. Trees are critical for public health and well-being. They are also an essential tool for climate change—trees remove carbon dioxide and other pollutants in the air and replace them with oxygen. They can also provide critical shade as summer months get hotter and hotter, and trees can even help prevent vehicle collisions through traffic calming.

Jessamine County is 13 out of 21 counties that scored less than 60 for its tree canopy. To bring that score up to 60, Jessamine County must plant 1,600 trees. According to the American Forests, Black and Brown communities have 33 percent less tree canopy on average in comparison to primarily white communities, so according to the climate action plan and equity, tree plantings should be focused mainly in the neighborhoods alongside Downtown Nicholasville, like in the Hervey Town Neighborhood- Nicholasville’s historically Black neighborhood. Also, Judge Executive David West mentioned individuals in the county are interested in planting trees along the Eastern Bypass to create a shadier, cooler path. Both will be possible with funds and help from Lexington.

“It’s just another effort to make people mindful that we have to take care of the planet,” West said.

According to Mayor Carter, the submission of this plan is just the beginning. “That first meeting was just a kickoff,” he said. Lexington and its partners will continue planning, engagement, and action to follow the plan’s goal of reducing emissions and encouraging sustainability.

Here are the next steps for the Priority Climate Action Plan (PCAP) according to LFUCG’s website:

  • In 2025, the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) will publish a Comprehensive Climate Action Plan (CCAP) that establishes equitable and sustainable economic development strategies that reduce emissions across all sectors. The CCAP will include near- and long-term emissions projections, a suite of emissions reduction measures, a robust analysis of measure benefits, plans to leverage federal funding, and a workforce planning analysis.
  • In 2027, LFUCG will publish a status report that details implementation progress for measures included in the PCAP and CCAP, any relevant updates to PCAP and CCAP analyses, and the next steps and future budget and staffing needs to continue implementing the CCAP measures.