The Governor has called for a rally in support of his Administration's legislative agenda on the environment. The rally will be held tomorrow, February 20, at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort, at 12 noon.
Although KRC believes that the Patton Administration's environmental initiatives need strengthening, particularly concerning power plant siting, the Governor has endorsed Rep. Stumbo's HB 174 and has proposed modest smart growth initiatives, as well as a new Pine Mountain State Park.
Come join us in support of HB 174, power plant siting legislation and other environmental initiatives.
Below is the Governor's office description of the Patton administration initiatives.
GOVERNOR PATTON'S 2002 ENVIRONMENTAL AGENDA: Preserving and Strengthening Our Quality of Life
Those things that we hold dear about our state -- the unique beauty of our landscapes, prime farmland, the wildlife, recreational opportunities -- have become even more important. As have our small towns and large cities, which offer citizens a sense of community and a high quality of life. These qualities will determine our ability to compete for quality jobs in the new economy of the 21st century, where technology allows companies to locate virtually anywhere. Those areas that offer a high concentration of skilled workers and are attractive, clean and have a high quality of life will be the most successful.
In the last decade the trend of out-migration has been reversed and Kentucky is growing again. In 1982, about a third of an acre was developed for every person living in Kentucky. By the end of the last decade, that figure had jumped to one half acre per person. Unfortunately not all of this growth has been well planned -- in our urban areas, the rate of land development far exceeded the rate of population increase. And only 27 of our 120 counties have comprehensive planning. Quality growth is the key to allowing us to remain competitive now and prosperous in the future, while protecting our environment.
Governor Patton is supporting several key pieces of legislation that can strengthen our quality of life and thus our future prosperity.
Smart Growth Bill (HB 600 - Rep. Joe Barrows) ensures that state government leads by example, requiring that state administered capital projects are subject to local planning and zoning. The bill establishes a State Planning Committee that will review the siting of projects, including all state administered projects that require acquisition of more than 50 acres of prime farmland; looking at the impact on existing infrastructure, open spaces, agricultural resources, and historic or environmentally sensitive areas; and review state infrastructure and capital development plans for their long term impact on growth and land use. The bill establishes a State Planning Assistance Office that will serve as a one-stop resource site for local communities in their planning efforts. In addition, HB 600 creates four state tax credits that will preserve neighborhoods, encourage restoration of historic areas, aid affordable housing, and promote downtown revitalization. For certified rehabilitation of property listed in the National Register of Historic Places or located in a historic district, it creates a 30% credit for owner occupied residential property (maximum credit $60,000), a 20% credit on one quarter of the qualified rehabilitation cost for all other property to supplement the existing 20% federal tax credit, and a 10% credit (not to exceed $20,000) for qualified new construction in historic districts. A tax credit (not to exceed 10% of appraised value of renovated property) will be given for qualified redevelopment of property for affordable housing in a neighborhood redevelopment zone.
Cell Tower Siting Bill (HB 598 - Rep. Steve Riggs) removes the Public Service Commission from the approval process for cell tower locations in areas under the jurisdiction of a planning commission. The PSC will still have siting review over cell towers in communities with no planning commission.
Solid Waste Bill (HB 174 - Rep. Greg Stumbo) provides incentives to counties to eliminate open dumps and roadside litter, closes historic landfills, improves Kentucky's solid waste management infrastructure, and funds environmental education. A one-half cent environmental impact fee on certain containers, beverage cups and disposable cups, as well as a one dollar per ton tipping fee at landfills, would go to the Kentucky Pride Fund. This fund would generate $30 million annually, distributed as follows: $9 million to be used by the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet to characterize and properly close old landfills (those which ceased accepting solid waste prior to July 1, 1992); $9 million allocated to all 120 counties to be used to clean up open dumps; up to $10.5 million to the counties to fund litter control, anti-litter programs, recycling efforts and to upgrade solid waste infrastructure; and $1.5 million to implement the environmental education master plan, "Land, Legacy and Learning."
If the Kentucky Pride Fund exceeds $30 million in any fiscal year, the surplus money, not to exceed $10 million, will be transferred to the Kentucky Parks Enhancement Fund and the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, to be shared equally. The Parks fund will be used to clean up and beautify existing state parks and acquire or restore significant natural areas. The Fish and Wildlife fund will be used as state matching dollars or federal or private grants funds. If the Kentucky Pride Fund exceeds $40 million in any fiscal year, the excess money will be distributed as follows: 60% to the Kentucky Pride Fund, 20% to the Parks Enhancement Fund, and 20% to the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
Power Plant Siting Bill (HB 540 - Rep. Jon Draud) creates a siting board and requires a power plant be set back 3000 feet from the point of emission to a residential neighborhood, historic structure, school, hospital or nursing home and 500 feet from a single occupied residential structure. Siting criteria used to evaluate proposed generation facilities will include the impact on the environment and the economy; the feasibility of building on existing generation sites; local planning and zoning requirements; the impact of additional load on transmission system reliability; efforts to communicate with the public and environmental compliance history. The criteria considered for transmission lines will include whether the route minimizes impact on scenic and environmental assets and whether the additional load will adversely impact transmission grid or reliability. Other provisions protect Kentucky ratepayers from bearing the cost of construction of lines not necessary to serve Kentucky and gives Kentucky customers priority during grid overload.
Pine Mountain State Park Bill (HB 556 - Rep. Keith Hall & SB 158 - Sen. Ray Jones) creates a linear park from Breaks Interstate Park to Pine Mountain State Park, then turning south to Cumberland Gap National Park, protecting some of the Commonwealth's most unique natural areas and providing opportunities for the public to enjoy the region's beauty. The park will be approximately 120 miles long with a 500 foot corridor on either side of the crest of Pine Mountain, one of few largely intact landscape scale ecosystems in Kentucky.
The Pine Mountain Trail was designated a federal Millennium Legacy Trail in 1999 along with the Cumberland Trail, a similar linear state park in Tennessee which will travel from Cumberland Gap National Park to Chattanooga on the Georgia border. Together the two trails will traverse approximately 400 miles, and could potentially connect to the 2,167 mile Appalachian Trail. Congressman Hal Rogers recently gained federal funding of $1,000,000 for this Millennium Legacy Trail development