2002: Legislative update

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Legislative update. Click here for full text.  Posted: April 8, 2002
This is the most recent legislative update, highlighting the remaining unresolved environmental issues facing the General Assembly when it reconvenes on April 15 for one day, and updating on some of the other environmental bills considered during the current legislative session.

I appreciate the effort that many of you have made to contact legislators during this session. If the cost of freedom is eternal vigilance, so too the cost of healthy communities and a healthy environment is persistent civic and political involvement.



Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.

Post Office Box 1070

Frankfort, Kentucky 40602

(502) 875-2428 phone (502) 875-2845 fax

e-mail FitzKRC@aol.com


April 8, 2002


One Day Will Decide Environmental Legacy of 2002 Session


With all five of the major environmental issues unresolved, the General Assembly adjourned until April 15, when it will reconvene for a "veto day" and is anticipated, to take action on several of these issues. Five minutes of your time can make the difference between a good or a bad session.


Please send a fax to Rep. Greg Stumbo at 502-564-0588 or leave him a message at the toll-free number, 800-372-7181, thank him for his advocacy on environmental issues and ask him to:

* Hold firm on his proposal to pass HB 174 with a $1.75 fee on all waste;

* Stay firm on requiring Senator Harris to accept Amendments 10-13 on SB 257, the power plant bill;

* Assure that the final Budget includes the House-passed budget language blocking new mine permits for applicants owned by those with unresolved violations; and

* Assure that the eligibility for reimbursement from the Underground Storage Tank Fund is extended for another two years to help the "mom and pop" owners clean up leaking tanks, either by passing SB 193 with House Amendment 5 or through budget language.

Please send a fax to Senator Dan Kelly at 502-564-8317 or leave him a message at the toll-free number, 1-800-372-7181 and ask him to:

* ask Senate leadership to accept House Floor Amendments 10-13 on SB 257, the power plant bill;

* Assure that the final Budget includes the House-passed budget language blocking new mine permits for applicants owned by those with unresolved violations; and

* Assure that the eligibility for reimbursement from the Underground Storage Tank Fund is extended for another two years to help the "mom and pop" owners clean up leaking tanks, either by passing SB 193 with House Amendment 5 or through budget language.

Also, please send an e-mail to Senator Ernie Harris by going to www.lrc.state.ky.us/Mailform/harris.htm and filling in the form, requesting that he include House Floor Amendments 3, 6, 10, 11, 12, and 13 in SB 257 in order to strengthen the bill.

Background information on these issues and some key bills that have been passed, follow.





Budget Language Blocking Outlaw Coal Companies Needs Reinstating


The General Assembly budget conferees should reinstate in the budget the House language barring new surface mining permits from being issued where the persons owning and controlling the permit applicant have other outstanding violations that they have failed to correct. This language has been in the budget for four years, and this year the Senate removed it and has committed to reinclude it, but it has not yet been done. Without this language, any outlaw could, by creating a dummy corporation between it and the permit applicant, get back in the mining business without correcting past violations.


Underground Storage Tank Fund Extension Needed


Passing Senate Bill 193 with Rob Wilkey's Amendment #5 is critical. The state underground storage tank fund has been emptied of supposedly-dedicated funds to the tune of over 90$ million in order to balance the current budget. That money was intended to reimburse for cleanup of contamination from leaking underground storage tanks. Without SB 193, the state underground storage tank fund eligibility ends on July 15, 2002, and if individuals discover these tanks they will not be able to secure reimbursement for cleanups. There are still some 100 or so each year of small businesses and individuals, and absent the bill with the Wilkey amendment, the fund would no longer pay for pulling the tanks, and for reimbursing cleanup costs.


If SB 193 isn't passed, the final budget language must extend the eligibility until 2004 in order to assure that those least able to pay for the remediation are protected by a fund that was intended not to be a cash cow for budget balancing, but was intended to address the legacy of leaking underground storage tanks (that were dumped on these mom-and-pop businesses by big oil, who systematically divested themselves of the leaking tanks as they lobbied Congress to make the "current" owner liable).


Power Plant Bill Needs Strengthening Amendments, Then Approval


SB 257, the power plant siting bill, is pending before the House. The PSC needs one change in the bill to clarify and protect their existing right to reject sites for regulated utilities, and we have sought four amendments (10 through 13) that would (1) allow changes at facilities without new siting review only if they do not cause an overall increase in environmental impacts; (2) 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; (3) replace the terms "good cause" for waiving setbacks, and "good" environmental compliance history, with more precise standards to guide when an environmental history is bad enough to justify rejection of the application for siting, and when it is appropriate to waive a setback, and (4) to require that any new power plant 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 last change is very important, since it seeks to prevent gas peaking plants from accepting "minor source" limits of 95 tons per year (if they emitted 100 tons, they'd be a "major source" and would have to install best technology), and then emitting all 95 tons in the peak summer "ozone" months, thus interfering with attainment and maintenance of air quality elsewhere in the state and using less than the best technology to control pollution.


Senator Ernie Harris has resisted including these needed amendments because lawyers for one of the merchant plants doesn't like the amendments. The House should not move SB 257 without a commitment from Senate leadership to include these needed changes.


Rep. Stumbo's HB 174 Must Be Passed With Sufficient Funding


House Bill 174, which creates a $1.75 per ton generator fee on all waste handled by a transfer station or municipal solid waste disposal facility and intended for disposal in such a facility, is pending before the House. The House and Senate are very close to agreement, and it is anticipated that they will concur on a bill that will create a Kentucky Pride Fund, funded by that fee and by a 5 million allocation (1/2 from the Road Fund, ? from the road contingency fund each year). The Natural Resources Cabinet would get 2.5 million a year to characterize abandoned disposal sites and formerly permitted city and county landfills, and 2.5 million a year would go to debt service on a $25 million bond to allow immediate action on the 3 or 4 top priority sites. Up to 1 million per year in interest would fund the environmental education centers component of the Environmental Education Master Plan. The 5 million per year from the road funds would fund city and county litter cleanup (2x a year city, 3X a year county). The remaining amount, estimated at 4.8 million, would be used for open dump cleanup. Counties would be required to match state money with 25% local match in cash or in kind.


The key issues that must be resolved and which Dan Kelly and Greg shouldn't waver on are: all waste going to municipal solid waste disposal facilities, including industrial and special wastes going to municipal solid waste landfills, should be subject to the fee since they are a big part of the problem with the toxicity of leachate from old landfills; the fee should be imposed on all waste going to such facilities, whether in or out of state, and should be imposed at the transfer stations and disposal facilities; the $1.75 fee should not be lowered, and should instead be raised to $2 per ton, which would correlate out to $2 per person per year (since each person generates about 1 ton of waste per year); the funds for open dump cleanup should go the Cabinet, not directly to the counties, and should be allocated to counties that have approved solid waste plans based on eliminating the dumps posing the greatest threats to public health and the environment first; and if a county has mandatory collection and enforces it, or has another equally effective collection program, the 25% local match could be waived to create an incentive to ramp up local garbage management efforts.


Cell Tower Bill Should Be Passed By House . . . After HB 174 Is Resolved


The cell tower bill has been appended onto HB 270, and is pending for concurrence in the House. It is anticipated that it will be concurred in, as part of resolution of the other issues, since the PSC has indicated it is ok with the bill, as have most parties.






HB 618 repeals the Jefferson County vehicle emissions testing program as of November 1, 2003, and allows subsequent reinstatement of the program only if after that time Jefferson County becomes again non-attainment for certain pollutants.


The fault for the loss of the VET program lies with Jefferson County-Judge Rebecca Jackson, who approved the first legislative action in 2000 to damage the program by relieving motorcycles and 20,000 commuters from compliance with the VET, setting the precedent for state intrusion into local control over air pollution, and who failed to take meaningful action stop the Republican-controlled Senate from moving the repeal bill this session. Supporting Oscars for this public policy debacle go to Greater Louisville Inc., whose failure to have taken meaningful action in both sessions and whose final support for the repeal bill undercut the interests of the major industries in the Jefferson County community who are Chamber members, and paved the way for repeal of the program.


HB 618 is significantly flawed, and fails to allow the local community to reinstate the program after November 2003 if the community is determined to be in non-attainment for particulates, or for ozone, CO or other criteria pollutants before November 2003. The burden of making the additional reductions in pollution will come from the larger sources in the community, at a far greater cost to those companies and to the community. Send the Governor a fax urging veto to 502-564-2735.


+ SB 120 amended. This bill, a proposed constitutional amendment to repeal constitutional provisions relating to control over corporations and allowing instead the General Assembly to regulate corporations by general law, was amended by the House Committee and is expected to be concurred in by the Senate, to remove two sections from the bill that KRC sought ? protections against corporate infringement on individual rights and protection of the ability to revoke corporate charters in the case of misdeeds.


+ SB 287 dies. The bill, which would have exempted the Kentucky Pioneer Energy plant proposed to burn New York waste and coal in Trapp Kentucky, from local government approval as a solid waste disposal facility, died in committee.


+ HB 244 passes. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Rob Wilkey, extends the life of the hazardous waste assessment fund for 2 years. A Senate committee amendment gave an unjustified special exemption for steel industry wastes, a price of about $150,000 that will be paid by extending assessments on other industries.


HB 367 amended to protect public access to compliance files. HB 367, which as originally proposed would have exempted almost all documents relating to an agricultural operation's compliance with agricultural water quality plans from public review, was amended to narrow the scope, assuring that any agency-generated documents relating to compliance would not be confidential.


HB 405 amended to lessen potential for abuse, but still violates federal law. The bill creates a new exemption from surface coal mining laws allowing individuals, nonprofit corporations and partnerships to extract up to 5,000 tons of coal without obtaining a mining permit or mining license if the coal is donated to a charitable organization or sold with all proceeds donated, was amended to lessen the possibility of abuse of the law by requiring that the state receive prior notice and be able to review the site prior to any coal removal, and to impose best management practices. It is doubtful that the bill will be approved by the federal Office of Surface Mining, since federal law requires a permit for coal removal, regardless of the intent, over 250 tons.


+ HB 422 Passes, reauthorizing the waste tire fund until July 31, 2006, and authorizing a waste tire amnesty program.


+ HB 496 Dies. This bill would have mandated that the Natural Resources Cabinet, on finding a violation of air, water or water laws, issue a preliminary written notice to violators of state air, waste and water laws and give time in which to correct the violation before issuance of a notice of violation, was recommitted by House leadership and is expected to die in committee.


+ HB 705 amended to protect landowners. HB 705 allows a oil and gas permittee an additional year extension on permits in which to commence drilling before expiration of permit, was amended by Rep. Brent Yonts to protect surface owners in severed estate situations, by limiting the effect of the bill on existing permits in those cases.


For a copy of any bill, or to check the status of the bill, which committee it has been assigned to for hearing, and other legislative information, visit the Legislature's Homepage at http://www.lrc.state.ky.us. The toll phone number to reach a legislator in person is 502-564-8100. The toll-free bill status line is 1-888-829-0021. The toll-free meeting information line is 1-800-633-9650. The toll-free message line is 1-800-372-7181, to leave a message for a legislator.




Did you know that for a single fax to 502-564-6543, you can reach any legislators that you want to contact? You can send a letter, for example, to all Senators and Representatives by listing their individual names on a cover sheet and asking that each get a copy of your letter. The good folks at the LRC fax room will copy your fax and distribute it to all that you list (the recipients must be listed by name.) The LRC webpage has a list of all legislators and all committee members.




By Kentucky Resources Council on 04/08/2002 5:32 PM
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