The U.S. Department of Energy has started negotiations with General Electric's nuclear division on a proposal to replace Paducah's aging uranium enrichment plant with a new one.
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy wants to build a laser enrichment facility that would make use of the depleted uranium kept at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. The Energy Department announced Wednesday that it has selected the company to begin exclusive negotiations for the sale of the uranium inventory.
U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, along with Rep. Ed Whitfield, said in a news release that the new plant would create hundreds of permanent jobs at the site.
The Paducah plant had been a major employer for two generations but is being mothballed. Layoffs began earlier this year.
Kentucky’s elected leaders are again asking the federal government whether or not the commonwealth can legally grow industrial hemp. Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and some members of Kentucky's congressional delegation have sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The letter asks the DEA to clarify its position on industrial hemp. A Justice Department memo issued in August provides guidance concerning marijuana enforcement in states that have legalized marijuana. Commissioner Comer believes industrial hemp should be treated the same way.
"Recognizing the intent of the Aug. 29 memo, it would defy common sense to allow states to move forward with marijuana activity, but ignore states that have passed laws allowing for the production of industrial hemp," writes Comer.
The letter is also signed by U.S. Senator Rand Paul and Congressmen Thomas Massie and John Yarmuth. The letter puts the government on notice that Kentucky will move forward with hemp production unless the state hears otherwise.
The Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 50 in the 2013 session that sets up a regulatory framework for hemp production.
Vehicle exports from Kentucky were up 43 percent through the first nine months of the year, setting a state record.
Governor Steve Beshear said the state exported more than $3 billion worth of vehicles between January and September and will likely top $4 billion by year's end. That, he said, translates into more jobs and a stronger economy for Kentucky.
The previous record for vehicle exports was $2.7 billion set last year.
Beshear said a significant part of the growth is the result of exports to Saudi Arabia, which now is the second largest buyer of Kentucky-made automobiles.
Canada remains the top consumer of vehicles produced in Kentucky.
Exports of all Kentucky products also are on a record pace, having reached $18.4 billion as of September.