A lawsuit has been filed against the Tennessee Valley Authority over its plans to shut down two coal-fired units at its plant in Muhlenberg County.
The suit brought by a group of landowners and the Kentucky Coal Association argues the TVA didn’t perform a proper environmental impact statement before it decided to close the units at the Paradise Fossil Plant, and replace them with a natural gas unit scheduled to begin operations in 2017.
Meanwhile, ground continues to be cleared for the project. Speaking to reporters in June at the Paradise plant in Drakesboro, TVA transition manager Billy Sabin said the excavation stage should be completed within three months.
“That’s expected to complete sometime around the September timeframe. When that is complete, we’ll be working on getting our permits in place, and starting actual construction the end of this year to the first of next year.”
A TVA spokesman says officials are reviewing the lawsuit and will respond appropriately. The federally-owned corporation says reducing the number of coal-burning units at its Muhlenberg County plant from three to one will cut its coal reliance at the facility by half.
Construction crews have cleared about 60 percent of the land needed to begin building a new natural gas facility at the Paradise Fossil Plant in Muhlenberg County. The new plant is scheduled to open by spring of 2017, and will take the place of two coal burning units currently in operation at the TVA facility.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday at the future site of the new gas-burning unit, Transition Manager Billy Sabin said this week’s announcement of new E.P.A. regulations on power plant emissions won’t impact the Paradise Fossil Plant, because the TVA had already decided to reduce carbon emissions at a much faster rate than what the federal government is now seeking.
“We will have a reduction of about 50 percent of coal. Because Unit 3 will continue to run, it’s going to burn about 2.7 to 3 million tons of coal a year,” Sabin said. “So it’ll be about a 50 percent reduction from what we do now.”
Sabin says the excavation stage of the new cleaner-burning gas plant project will be completed by early 2015, with construction of the facility following. He says the new facility, known as a combined-cycle gas plant, has several advantages over the older coal-burning model.
Senator Mitch McConnell is making good on his promise to introduce legislation that would block new rules announced this week by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The E.P.A. rules call on power plants to reduce carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030. The move has been slammed by Republicans and some coal-state Democrats who describe the standards as federal overreach that will harm the nation’s economy while doing little to actually halt climate change.
The E.P.A says the regulations will help clean the air and establish the U.S. as a leader in the fight against climate change.
Sen. McConnell has introduced what he’s calling the Coal Country Protection Act. According to McConnell’s office, the legislation would mandate the Secretary of Labor to certify to the EPA Administrator that the new regulations will not lead to a loss of jobs.
Also under the measure, the Director of the Congressional Budget Office would have to certify that the regulations would not result in a loss of gross domestic product in the U.S.
A new report on U.S. power plant emissions says Kentucky has the highest rate of carbon dioxide emissions in the nation.
The report was produced by environmental advocacy groups, energy companies, and Bank of America.
Kentucky topped the ranking of states emitting the most carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of power produced, followed by Wyoming, West Virginia, and Indiana. Tennessee ranked 26th.
Dan Bakal is Director of Electric Power at CERES, one of the environmental groups that prepared the report. He says states like Kentucky can follow the example of Ohio, which has decreased its carbon emissions in recent years.
“They have really made a move to diversity their energy mix by shifting away from coal, increasing natural gas, increasing renewable energy, and also investing in energy efficiency in a very cost-effective way,” Bakal said.
Supporters of the coal industry—including Kentucky U.S Senator Mitch McConnell—say increased federal regulation is costing jobs and hurting local economies in places like eastern Kentucky.
The U.S. Supreme Court is upholding the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate coal pollution that crosses state lines.
Tuesday’s 6-2 decision is being called a major victory for the Obama administration’s environmental agenda, and will likely have a major impact on coal-fired power plants in Kentucky and other states.
The White House has put forth a set of new Clean Air Act regulations aimed at cutting pollution coming from coal-fired power plants. Coal industry advocates and many Republican lawmakers—including Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell—have sharply criticized those regulations, describing them as government overreach and a “war on coal.”
The EPA is expected to unveil new climate control regulations in June to cut down on carbon pollution from coal plants. Kentucky gets an estimated 90 percent of its electricity from coal-fired plants, such as the Paradise Fossil Plant in Muhlenberg County.
Many power suppliers have been anticipating increased scrutiny of coal pollution, and have been implemented changes at their plants to make their coal-fired operations more environmentally-friendly.
Tennessee Valley Authority spokesman Scott Brooks told WKU Public Radio that Tuesday's Supreme Court decision has "no impact" on the utility's plans for the Paradise plant.
The CEO of one of the companies behind the Bluegrass Natural Gas Liquids pipeline says a lack of customer interest has led backers to halt the controversial project.
Stan Horton with Boardwalk Pipeline Partners says his company, along with Williams Co., is still having discussions with potential liquid natural gas customers.
“The Bluegrass and Moss Lake projects are not dead. We are no longer funding any capital for those projects, but the joint venture between us and Williams is still in place,” said Horton.
Horton spoke on a conference call with investors Monday morning.
The Bluegrass Pipeline project had drawn heavy opposition from environmental groups and some residents in the path of the project. It also sparked a debate in the state legislature concerning the rights of private companies to use eminent domain.
Bowling Green’s new mobile farmer’s market is offering fresh food on wheels to areas of the city where fresh produce may be hard to find.
The market was introduced to the public at an Earth Day event at WKU.
When Jackson Rolett started up the old, retro-fitted school bus Tuesday, it was a proud moment. He’s been working since last spring on a traveling farmer’s market that will deliver fresh, locally grown produce to under-served areas of the city.
"We're seeking to address accessibility," said Rolett. "Transportation is a big issue with food access, especially in certain areas of Bowling Green, so we thought 'Why not bring the food to those people?'"
Funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the market also accepts forms of government assistance.
Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has praised the effort and hopes similar markets can launch statewide.
Bowling Green’s mobile market will travel Wednesday to the Barren River District Health Department and the Boys and Girls Club.
U.S Army Corps of Engineers documents show that a planned pipeline project in Kentucky would affect more than 750 rivers, streams, wetlands and ponds during construction. The proposed Bluegrass Pipeline would carry natural gas liquids through more than a dozen Kentucky counties on the way to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Courier-Journal obtained a wetlands destruction permit submitted to the Corps of Engineers in December by the pipeline builders. The permit says the construction would require digging trenches through most of the waterways or drilling underneath others, as well as maintaining a 50-foot cleared right of way.
Opponents of the pipeline say construction would do lasting damage to the waterways.
The permit has since been withdrawn and the pipeline's builders have pushed back a proposed construction completion date to the end of 2016.
The city of Glasgow has taken another step toward limiting the impact of methane gas released from its landfill.
Governor Steve Beshear was in Barren County Wednesday to present Glasgow city leaders with a $100,000 grant from the state to pursue a landfill gas generation project.
Currently, methane emitted from garbage at local landfills is vented into the atmosphere. Under the new plan, methane would be piped into a generator and converted into electricity.
“This methane gas to electricity process is something we need to do more of in this country," Beshear said. "And to take refuge in a landfill, and take the methane gas off of that and turn it into electricity and put it on the grid so that people can use it--it saves us all money, it saves the environment.”
Glasgow mayor Rhonda Trautman says the city is acting now to avoid problems later.
A Franklin County judge has ruled that Kentucky law doesn’t allow the use of eminent domain for a natural gas liquids pipeline. The move is the latest blow to the controversial Bluegrass Pipeline project.
The Bluegrass Pipeline would carry natural gas liquids across Kentucky to the Gulf of Mexico. The NGLs are used in manufacturing processes, but the project has been controversial because of worries about the project's environmental impact and safety concerns.
A measure to block NGL pipelines from using eminent domain is moving through the state legislature, but the Franklin County ruling adds another legal hurdle to the project. Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled that the pipeline doesn’t fall under the commonwealth’s definition of “public service,” and thus couldn’t use eminent domain.
Tom FitzGerald of the Kentucky Resources Council filed the lawsuit on behalf of several Kentucky landowners.