Washington, D.C. – Last Friday, the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) issued an emergency rate hike for the Martin County Water District. Residents will soon see their rates go up 28 percent as a result.
The following is a statement on the rate hike from Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch:
“We have been monitoring the situation in Martin County, Kentucky, an impoverished community in coal country that has been experiencing catastrophic failures recently after years of water outages, low water pressure and boil-water advisories. While this emergency increase is less than what was originally proposed, it is still an increase that the residents should not see come out of their own pockets.
“We were glad to see federal funding secured by Gov. Matt Bevin and Rep. Hal Rogers to address the situation in February. That should have been justification enough to eliminate the rate hike until more federal dollars could be secured to help Martin County and other failing water systems across the country.
“To add insult to injury, large economic interests like Norfolk Southern and Harvard University have long been extracting mineral and fossil fuel wealth from the county without paying their fair share of the taxes. Fair taxation of this wealth would help keep the money in the community and contribute to the smooth operation of the water system.
“We know the PSC will revisit the issue once a full accounting has been done. Once that happens, we call on the Commission to reject this rate increase and refund any excess rates collected under this interim decision.”
“We continue to call on Rep. Hal Rogers, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, and Senator Rand Paul to fight for the federal funding its constituents need. The county should also rethink allowing companies and other economic interests to profit off of the community’s resources without paying their fair share of taxes.
“We also call upon Harvard University to address its role in the crisis. Harvard has the largest endowment in the nation, while people in the community can’t afford clean water. Harvard should shut down any gas wells operating on its land in the county and pay its fair share in back taxes and royalties.”
Resource: Case Study, The Water Crisis in Martin County, Kentucky.
Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.
Contact: Darcey Rakestraw, 202-683-2467; [email protected]