Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Karen Armstrong-Cummings, June 17, 1989

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Overview of Armstrong-Cummings' involvement in Kentucky environmental conservation

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Partial Transcript: --Chadwell. It's for the project Kentucky Conservationists.

Segment Synopsis: Armstrong-Cummings provides a brief overview of her background in environmental activism, with emphasis on her time in Kentucky government.

Keywords: Department of Environmental Protection (DEP); Deputy Commissioner; Legislature; National Pollutant Discharge Elimination (NPDE); Protection; Surface mining; Waste management

Subjects: Environmental protection--Kentucky; Environmentalism; Frankfort (Ky.); Hazardous wastes; Kentucky. General Assembly

00:03:01 - Major movements in Kentucky environmental protection

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Partial Transcript: I'd like you to talk about, um, two or three, uh, major involvements in the environmental protection movement within the state.

Segment Synopsis: Armstrong-Cummings describes the development and implementation of solid waste planning initiatives, including training and certification for landfill operations. She discusses the impact of 40% statewide illiteracy on the ability to implement the initiative.

Keywords: Bowling Green (Ky.); Ed Ford; Garbage; Hazard (Ky.); Illiterate; Inspections; John Berry; Landfills; Literacy; Mickey McGuire; Operators; Senators; Solid waste planning; Training; Valley of the Drums; Water quality

Subjects: Environmental protection--Kentucky; Environmentalism; Frankfort (Ky.); Hazardous wastes

00:16:01 - How waste management plans were developed / why environmental regulations gained support in Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: And we were the first state in the nation, and this isn't very well known, we were the first state in the nation to actually do anything like this.

Segment Synopsis: Armstrong-Cummings discusses how the plan for solid waste management came into existence, who was involved, and why environmental legislation had public support at the time due to the dumping of industrial waste.

Keywords: Commission; Dumping; Ed Ford; Field; Governor Julian Carroll; Hugh Archer; Indiana; Industrial; Inspectors; John Berry; Legislation; Legislature; Ohio; Regulations; Senators; Valley of the Drums; Wisconsin

Subjects: Environmental protection--Kentucky; Environmentalism; Hazardous wastes; Kentucky. General Assembly; Refuse and refuse disposal.; Waste disposal sites

GPS: Location of the toxic dump site Valley of the Drums
Map Coordinates: 38.082229, -85.723625
00:18:51 - Impact of environmental regulation on small landfill operators

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Partial Transcript: And are you, um, also suggesting then that it was especially effective because these were primarily mom and pop operations?

Segment Synopsis: Armstrong-Cummings discusses the significance of local interests and operators in enforcing landfill regulations in rural areas of Kentucky.

Keywords: Kentucky; Landfills; Local; Resistance; Rural; Small operator assistance; Solid waste

Subjects: Environmental protection--Kentucky; Environmentalism; Harlan (Ky.); Hazard (Ky.); Hazardous wastes; Refuse and refuse disposal.; Waste disposal sites

00:21:47 - Inequity of enforcement of regulations for small and large businesses in Kentucky / creating a plan for solid waste management

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Partial Transcript: Is another aspect of that issue that the big operators have, uh, lawyers to protect themselves...

Segment Synopsis: Armstrong-Cummings reflects on the differences between enforcement of environmental regulation on small and large industries. She follows up with an explanation of the Solid Waste Planning Initiative and how this was the first time cities planned what to do with their garbage.

Keywords: Art Williams; Corporate; County judges; Deputy commissioners; Ed Ford; Enforcement; Garbage; Inequity; John Berry; Kentucky; Landfills; Laws; Lawyers; Municipal; Operators; Plan; Re-certification; Regulations; Russ Barnett; Small businesses; Solid Waste Planning Initiative

Subjects: Environmental protection--Kentucky; Environmentalism; Hazardous wastes; Refuse and refuse disposal.

00:28:21 - Most important issues / public education

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Partial Transcript: Well, if th, if there's anything else you'd like to talk about about that issue or if you wanted to, uh, move across a few issues...

Segment Synopsis: Armstrong-Cummings discusses the aspects of her job that she believes are most important, including hiring a public information officer, public education, and environmental education.

Keywords: Deputy commissioners; Enforcement; Kentucky Conservation Committee (KCC); Landfills; Lobbying; Nature Conservancy; Operators; Programs; Public information; Public information officers; Regulations; Resistance; Technical assistance; Training

Subjects: Education--Kentucky.; Environmental protection--Kentucky; Environmentalism; Hazardous wastes; Refuse and refuse disposal.

00:33:12 - Rural development in balance with environmental protection

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Partial Transcript: Well, do you want to then sort of move along somewhat chronologically from your involvement with that issue...

Segment Synopsis: Armstrong-Cummings talks about her involvement with efforts to create job opportunities while protecting the environment. She describes the Kentucky Center for Public Issues and what actions the center takes.

Keywords: Ashland Oil; Bob Sexton; Civic; Education; Equity; Governor Martha Layne Collins; Governor Steve Beshear; Governor Wallace Wilkinson; Kentucky Center for Public Issues; Lexington (Ky.); Mary Jane Adams; Public; Rural development; Toyota; Unemployment

Subjects: Employment--Kentucky; Environmental protection--Kentucky; Environmentalism

00:39:37 - Impact of regulations on small rural business / impact of the 1988 drought on rural Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: The--another term that they have been using for rural development is even-handed development.

Segment Synopsis: Rural areas are impacted by environmental regulations in ways that are different from urban areas. Additionally, rural areas of Kentucky experienced the 1988 drought in ways that were different than urban areas.

Keywords: 1988; Basin; Drought; Growth; Impact; Jobs; Kentucky River; Management; Mayor Scotty Baesler; Regulations; Restrictions; Rural development; Solid waste; Task force; Toyota; Water

Subjects: Employment--Kentucky; Environmental protection--Kentucky; Environmentalism; Lexington (Ky.).

00:43:18 - A lack of policy and planning for rural development

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Partial Transcript: Um, oh, I want to, to just go back to what you just touched on briefly before that...

Segment Synopsis: Armstrong-Cummings discusses the lack of policy and planning for rural development prior to Governor Wilkinson's administration.

Keywords: Governor Martha Layne Collins; Governor Wallace Wilkinson; Jobs; John Roy Brown; Policies; Policy; Rural development; State government

Subjects: Employment--Kentucky; Kentucky--Politics and government

00:46:52 - How to move from policy to implementation

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Partial Transcript: And do you have some thoughts about how to move from policy to real implementation?

Segment Synopsis: Armstrong-Cummings talks about how to move environmental policy ideas into the implementation in the field, and how human resources complicates retaining qualified employees.

Keywords: Access; Bureaucracy; Governor Wallace Wilkinson; Hiring; Implement; Jobs; Leadership; Local; Plans; Policies; Processes; Programs; Retention; Rural; State; Support; Tennessee

Subjects: Employment--Kentucky; Frankfort (Ky.)

00:53:04 - How to improve hiring and retaining good people

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Partial Transcript: Um, could you go back-------?? that issue of hiring and retaining good people?

Segment Synopsis: Armstrong-Cummings discusses the difficulty of attracting and retaining highly qualified PhDs to the public sector while the private sector offers higher salaries. She suggests innovative ideas to combat staff burnout, including sabbaticals and university exchanges with the private sector.

Keywords: Effectiveness; Government; Governor John Y. Brown; Hire; Hydrology; Illiterate; Lay offs; Literacy; PhDs; Private sector; Programs; Research; Retention; Sabbaticals; Scientists; Teaching; Training; Under funded; Understaffed; University

Subjects: Employment--Kentucky; Environmental protection--Kentucky; Environmentalism