A statewide effort to further the economy through funding energy research and attracting more students into STEM fields is getting a major financial boost.
Kentucky is one of six jurisdictions chosen to receive a five year research award from the National Science Foundation.
The award will fund the statewide project "Powering the Kentucky Bio economy for a Sustainable Future." $20 million comes from the National Science Foundation. Another $4 million will come from Kentucky's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto says the goal of the initiative is to meet current and future economic needs.
"The focus of this $24 million dollar interdisciplinary multi-institution research effort will be to strengthen Kentucky's bio-economy and develop new applications for established and emerging industries," said Capilouto.
A researcher at Mammoth Cave National Park is fearful that a fungal disease is set to kill large numbers of bats in the region.
White Nose Syndrome was first discovered at the park in south-central Kentucky last year, and has impacted at least six of the eight bat species found inside the cave. Rick Toomey, director of the Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning, says researchers at the park are expecting a spike in White Nose cases.
“Unfortunately we’re expecting potentially our next big milestone this year, when we may start seeing fairly large population drops, or possibly finding bats dying of white nose at the park.”
Watch: WKU Public Radio photojournalist Abbey Oldham recently produced a video exploring the potential impact of White Nose Syndrome on the bat populations at Mammoth Cave, and what the park is doing to combat the fungus:
Toomey says an estimated 6.5 million bats in North America have died due to White Nose Syndrome, although he believes the actual number could be much higher. Great Smokey Mountains National Park in Tennessee has recently seen a surge in bat deaths due to White Nose Syndrome—deaths Toomey says haven’t shown up yet in official estimates.
State lawmakers were once again briefed Friday about the effects of proposed federal regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from Kentucky’s coal-fired power plants.
Kentucky Energy and Environment Secretary Len Peters told an energy subcommittee in Frankfort that if the changes cause utility companies to increase their rates high enough, the state’s economy could suffer.
“I think the rate increases that are being talked about right now probably on the side it’s five percent," said Peters. "It could be as much as 25 percent. And if it gets into the 25 percent range, we have done some separate studies that clearly show that has a major impact on our manufacturing industry.”
Under the proposed guidelines, Kentucky will have to reduce its CO2 emissions by about 18 percent by the year 2030.
Despite the fact that the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline has been suspended, the companies behind the project are appealing a circuit court decision that found they don’t have the right of eminent domain.
The pipeline would have carried natural gas liquids—like butane, ethane and propane—from drilling operations in the Northeast through Kentucky to processing plants on the Gulf Coast. The NGLs are used in manufacturing materials such as plastics and synthetic rubber, and some Kentucky residents expressed concerns about widespread water contamination if the pipe were to be built and leak.
In May, the companies behind the project announced they were suspending capital investment in the project due to a lack of customer commitments. This was after a number of setbacks, including a ruling from Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd that the Bluegrass Pipeline wouldn’t have the power of eminent domain in Kentucky.
Representatives of Bluegrass Pipeline parent company Williams said at the time that the company would seek to use eminent domain only as a last resort, but they believed they had the power under Kentucky law.
Plans have been scrapped for a proposed natural gas power plant in western Kentucky.
Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas and Electric announced plans last year to construct a $700 million facility in Muhlenberg County.
The utilities announced this week the project was canceled because nine municipalities have chosen to terminate their contracts with the utility companies.
State Representative Brent Yonts of Greenville is disappointed by the loss of construction jobs.
"It would have brought people into the county to live, to work, and maybe even settle here at some point in time," said Yonts. "It will have a substantial negative impact on the county because we will not be getting the benefit of that work."
A new natural gas plant would have made up for the loss of an old coal-fired power plant in Muhlenberg County that’s slated to close next spring.
KU and LG&E still plan to build a solar-generating plant, but Yonts believes it would have less economic impact.
Attorneys General from Kentucky, Indiana and 10 other states are suing the federal Environmental Protection Agency over proposed greenhouse gas regulations.
The EPA has been required to regulate greenhouse gases—like carbon dioxide—since 2007, when the Supreme Court determined the gases posed a danger to human health. The lawsuit filed in the D.C. Court of Appeals on Friday takes issue with the way the EPA has proposed the regulations.
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway joined the suit without input from the Beshear Administration’s Energy and Environment Cabinet. Conway referenced the lawsuit in his Fancy Farm speech over the weekend.
"In fact, you’re looking at the only Democratic Attorney General in the country who is standing up for our coal and our low electricity rates by suing the EPA over whether they even have the authority to implement these new rules," Conway said to the crowd Saturday.
Under the proposed regulation, Kentucky will have to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 18 percent, and Indiana by 20 percent. But the way the emissions reductions are reached is left primarily up to the states.
Originally published on Fri August 1, 2014 6:14 am
The coal industry made its presence known in Pittsburgh this week for public hearings on President Obama's controversial plan to address climate change. A key element is rules the Environmental Protection Agency proposed in June. They would cut greenhouse gas emissions — chiefly carbon dioxide — from existing power plants. The national goal is 30 percent by 2030, based on 2005 levels.
A Canadian mining company will pay $3.2 million to settle allegations of Clean Water Act violations in Muhlenberg and Crittenden counties.
Elgin Mining of Vancouver, British Columbia, and the U.S. attorney's office in Louisville reached the agreement Thursday. Under the terms of the settlement, Elgin Mining will pay $3,071,292.00 to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources' Wetland and Stream Mitigation In-Lieu Fee Program, which provides mitigation credits for impacts to Kentucky's wetlands and streams associated with discharges of dredged or fill material.
Elgin Mining is also required to pay a civil penalty of $150,000 to the United States.
The government alleged that the company failed to mitigate the dumping of waste into streams and wetlands in Muhlenberg and Crittenden counties, resulting in the loss of the waterways.
The Environmental Protection Agency is holding hearings this week across the country to collect public comments on its proposed regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation gathered Wednesday to address what they call a “war on coal.”
The EPA’s proposed regulation would require Kentucky to cut 18 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions, though it leaves how those cuts are made up to the state. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attended what he called a “sham hearing” to voice his objections with the rule to EPA representatives, and then hosted a press conference with other congressional members from coal producing states.
"This isn’t about regulations written in some dungeon up in Washington. This is about thousands of people who have lost their jobs," exclaimed U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Bill Nye first learned to talk to audiences through his ’90s TV show “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” where he made science topics fun and accessible to kids. But now, as CEO of The Planetary Society, he speaks to a different audience.
Nye has appeared on numerous news programs to talk about climate change. He’s a proponent of immediate action to reduce the damage that has been done to the atmosphere.