This is the final report of legislative activities of the Kentucky Resources Council during the 2002 General Assembly session. The report was prepared for KRC members as an attachment to the renewal letter that is sent to membership.
Thank you to all of you, members and others, whose effort helped to make this session fairly successful both in stopping irresponsible bills and securing enactment of several positive steps towards environmental quality and public protection.
Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.
Post Office Box 1070
Frankfort, Kentucky 40602
(502) 875-2428 phone (502) 875-2845 fax
May 16, 2002
To: KRC Board and Members and Other Interested Persons
From: Tom FitzGerald, Director
Re: 2002 Summary of KRC Legislative Activity
The 2002 Kentucky General Assembly adjourned sine die on April 15, 2002. KRC, in keeping with our mission, participated in legislative advocacy on a number of environmental issues. As a non-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under the Internal Revenue Code, the Council strictly limits lobbying expenditures in order to fall within the specific limits authorized under federal tax law for such organizations.
During the 2002 Session, the Council spent $7,514.45 on salary and $1,405.58 in expenses, (copying $66.75, postage 327.93, LRC record and bill subscription $837.06, AOL $71.85, faxes $38.05, staff $72.94). This amount is $1,500 lower in salary costs and $1,302 lower in expenses than the corresponding costs incurred by KRC during the 2000 Legislative Session, reflecting savings in staff time and postage gained by increased use of the website and e-mail list for distribution of information.
What follows is a thumbnail sketch of KRC's legislative actions and outcomes:
Solid Waste Reform Bill Passes KRC was very active in assisting sponsor Rep. Greg Stumbo in securing passage of HB 174, the solid waste bill, which provides dedicated funding for roadside litter cleanup, to support a $25 million bond issue to address the highest priority abandoned or formerly permitted city or county landfills; to investigate, characterize and prioritize the hundreds of abandoned and formerly permitted landfills and dumps for future cleanup, and to support through matching funds local efforts to clean up roadside dumps. KRC advocated for retention of language providing a source of funding for the environmental education master plan. Power Plant Siting Bill Passes Many of the key concepts advocated by KRC were incorporated into SB 257, the power plant siting bill; one that is among the more comprehensive in the nation and which requires all new electric generating units (with minor exceptions) to undergo a siting review by a Siting Board that includes permanent and ad hoc public membership, and that authorizes the Natural Resources Cabinet to review and impose permit conditions addressing cumulative impacts of power plant permits.
Underground Storage Tank Fund Extended Senate Bill 193 extended the eligibility of old leaking underground storage tank sites for reimbursement from the state tank fund for remediation of contamination and closure of the former gas station sites. The original bill closed eligibility this June and mandated a new study of cleanup standards with the state required to accept UK's recommendations. KRC sought and obtained changes to preserve Cabinet authority to set cleanup standards, and to extend the eligibility to 2004. Hazwaste and Tire Funds Reauthorized KRC supported the reauthorization of the state waste tire fund and state hazardous waste assessment funds, HB 244 and 422 allowing those dedicated funds to continue to assess fees from new tire and new hazardous waste generation to fund cleanup of former tire and hazardous disposal sites, respectively.
Constitutional protections against corporate abuse preserved. KRC sought and the sponsor agreed to changes to Senate Bill 120, which proposes a constitutional amendment to remove many provisions in the state constitution limiting corporations. Two of the constitutional sections that were proposed to be submitted to voters for repeal were those prohibiting corporate abuse of individual rights, and requiring corporate charter revocation for misdeeds. Those two provisions were removed from the bill and will remain in our state constitution.
Surface owners will be protected against overreaching by oil and gas owners under an amendment sought by KRC to House Bill 705. The bill, as originally drafted, allowed any oil or gas permit to be renewed for a second year without landowner approval. Under the amendment sponsored by Rep. Brent Yonts on behalf of KRC, where the surface and mineral estates are severed, renewals cannot be obtained for permits already issued when the law becomes effective.
Environmental violations will be resolved more quickly with the death of HB 496. The bill, touted as a small business bill, actually was a "free bite" at violating environmental laws for the largest multinational as well as the smallest violator. After KRC and the state Cabinet opposed the bill, House leadership sent it to another committee to die.
Potential for abuse of new mining exemption lessened but the new law, HB 405, which allows up to 5,000 tons of coal to be removed from a site where construction is occurring and coal is found, still violates federal mining laws. KRC sought a number of changes, including prior state notice before coal removal, to lessen the potential that this exemption will be used to create new illegal mines.
Clark County's voice will not be quieted now that SB 287 has died. The bill would have exempted the proposed coal and trash-burning Kentucky Pioneer Energy power plant from those solid waste facilities needing local government approval.
Public access to compliance records of farms are protected under revisions made to narrow HB 367 in response to KRC and Hank Graddy's concerns. Originally, the bill protected any records relating to agricultural water quality plans.
The right of a landowner to purchase back condemned property not used for a local industrial development project was protected by an amendment sought by KRC and agreed-to by Rep. Denham to HB 549.