HB 496, the bill mandating preliminary written notices to violators, remains dormant in the House A&R Committee and is unlikely to reemerge.
SB 193, which would have cut off eligibility for state reimbursement of cleanups of leaking underground tanks in July 2002, was amended today on the Senate Floor to extend the deadline until July 2004. The amendment also maintains until 2004 the "small operators account" that pays up front for pulling out the old underground tanks. Around 100 additional leaking underground storage tanks cases are discovered each year needing cleanup, and the amendment assures that small business and individuals who discover these old tanks can access this fund. The bill reprograms the surplus from this dedicated fund to the road fund, with some funding for a bond issue to help fund cleanup and closure of old landfills.
AND NOW THE REMAINING ISSUES NEEDING YOUR HELP:
1. The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will vote early next week on HB 174. The Senate Committee version differs from the House version in how it proposes to fund litter collection and landfill closure. Representative Stumbo's bill imposes a modest environmental impact fee of ½ of 1 cent on disposable cups and fast food packaging, and a $1 per ton tipping fee on municipal solid waste disposed at landfills, to fund the Kentucky Pride Fund" in order to generate revenues for old landfill closure, dump clean, education and litter control.
Senate Committee Substitute 1 removes the advance disposal fees, and retains the landfill tipping fee. That fee is directed to pay the debt service on a bond issue of $45 million to fund assessment and closure of old landfills by the Cabinet. $10 million in the Governor's contingency road fund would be used, under a Senate Committee amendment expected to be offered, to fund roadside litter collection in cities and counties.
The Cabinet is authorized to reimburse counties eligible under the "clean counties" program for up to 75% of costs for cleaning up old open dumps.
The major gaps in the Senate approach are: (a) lack of any revenue source for counties for open dump cleanup. The "clean counties" are those that have already certified that they have no open dumps, and are the least needy of counties for new revenues to clean up old open dumps. The removal of the advanced disposal fee leaves a significant funding hole in the open dump cleanup efforts. (b) The bond issue for beginning to address old landfill closure and remediation is a good start, but the lack of recurring revenue will mean that additional monies will be needed in 2004 and beyond. With 136 known historic public and privately owned sites that formerly accepted waste and are not properly closed, with an additional 533 old sites, including dumps and landfills, that need verification, elimination and possible closure monies, $45 million will only begin the process. The average cost estimate for closing the historic sites was set at $200,000, which is an extremely low number given that the cost of closure of one county landfill alone recently was $4.1 million, according to County Judge Mike Miller. (c) The Senate bill removes the 1.5 million of funding for the Environmental Education Master Plan.
On the positive side, the bill retains the landfill tipping fee and strengthens language on the assessment of that fee on transfer stations. This represents the first time that the current Senate leadership has conceptually agreed to a dedicated new fee for solid waste management rather than relying solely on voluntary check offs or general fund monies, and is an important step towards generating a dedicated revenue stream.
Please call (1-800-372-7181) and fax (1-502-564-6543) Senators Harris, Tori, Worley, Pendleton, Scorsone, Shaughnessy, Leeper, Moore, Herron and Kelly and ask them to approve HB 174 with the advance disposal fee intact, or if they move the Senate Committee Substitute, to identify another dedicated revenue source sufficient to meet ongoing needs in the area of open dump remediation. Ask also that a portion of the funding in the Senate Committee Substitute be used to fully fund the Environmental Education Master Plan.
2. Power Plant Siting Bill Improves And Advances - 7 Key Changes Needed To Make It a Worthwhile Bill
SB 257, introduced by Senate Committee Chair Ernie Harris, represented an improvement over the House-passed HB 540 in several key areas, as previously profiled. The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee today passed a Senate Committee Substitute and a Senate Committee Amendment to SB 257 that continues to make further incremental improvements in the bill.
What remains to be done to make the bill a comprehensive and meaningful siting bill? Seven changes:
(1) Remove the special exemption for the Kentucky Pioneer Energy coal and garbage-burning power plant in Section 1(6). Whether that company has a contract to sell power to a regulated utility is irrelevant to the environmental impacts, which deserve siting review just as do all other coal and gas-fired plants.
(2) Eliminate the loophole in Section 4(4) that allows a merchant plant to expand without siting review. Instead, allow changes at facilities that have been previously reviewed for siting and cumulative environmental impacts without new siting review only if they "net-out" emissions by making reductions elsewhere in the plant so there is no overall increase in pollution.
(3) Apply siting and cumulative impact review to regulated utility units as well as merchant units, but allow those reviews to occur in the existing review process for regulated units.
(4) Tighten the definition of "commence to construct" to require that all facilities that have not begun continuous physical construction under contract be included in the bill.
(5) Expand the siting board review of "transcos," independent non-regulated transmission lines, by providing a 180-day review period and allowing the Board to demand changes in design and configuration of transmission lines in addition to routes.
(6) Replace the terms "good cause" for waiving setbacks, and "good" environmental compliance history, with more precise definitions.
(7) Impose a monthly cap on minor sources of NOx, and require that any facility seeking to emit more than the monthly cap install Best Available Control Technology for NOx and do dispersion modeling to assure that the facility emissions will not interfere with attainment of healthy air quality in any downwind community. This seeks to prevent gas peaking plants from accepting "minor source" limits of 95 tons per year, and then emitting all 95 tons in the peak summer months when ozone is a concern, and to impose BACT controls on those facilities.
Please call and leave a message for Senators Harris, Kelly, and Williams, and send a fax to those Senators, asking that these changes be made to Senate Bill 257.
3. While you are at it, ask Senators Harris, Kelly and Williams not to hear or pass SB 287, which attempts to allow the Kentucky Pioneer Energy plant proposed for Trapp Kentucky to avoid review and local government approval as a solid waste disposal facility by mandating exemption of this plant siting and its handling of New York's wastes from solid waste laws. (Click HERE