The Kentucky Public Service Commission has approved a deal for an Eastern Kentucky utility to buy electricity from biomass.
The proposed biomass plant will be in Perry County, and is expected to be operating by 2017. It’ll burn wood scraps for energy, and replace some of the capacity from the coal-fired Big Sandy power plant. Big Sandy will be retired soon, in the face of tougher pollution regulations.
Usually, the commission has to decide a case based on what electricity is the least-cost reasonable option. But PSC spokesman Andrew Melnykovych says this case was different.
"The legislature directed the PSC in a bill that was passed in the last session to essentially approve power supply contracts from biomass plants. And that is what the PSC did today."
A government watchdog group is urging Gov. Steve Beshear to call a special session this fall to pass legislation to protect private landowners from companies that have said they may use eminent domain to get right of way for a controversial pipeline project.
Common Cause of Kentucky delivered a letter to Beshear's office on Wednesday.
The Bluegrass Pipeline, being built by Williams Co. and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners of Texas, would cross northern and central Kentucky.
The material to be carried by the pipeline is a liquid byproduct of the natural gas refining process that is used to make plastics, medical supplies and carpet, among other products.
Richard Beliles, chairman of Common Cause Kentucky, said the pipeline would pose a hazard risk to the state.
The Environmental Protection Agency has unveiled its rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants. Some politicians and the coal industry have criticized the rules, saying they amount to a ban on new coal-fired plants.
The plan sets an emissions limit of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour for large natural gas plants, and 1,100 pounds per megawatt hour for coal and smaller natural gas plants.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says climate change caused by greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide poses numerous public health challenges—everything from poor air quality to an increase in the number of disease-spreading mosquitoes and ticks. She said these rules for new power plants are necessary, and won’t have the dire economic consequences industry groups predict
“We have proven time after time that setting fair, Clean Air Act standards to protect public health does not cause the sky to fall,” McCarthy said. “The economy does not crumble.”
Technologies like carbon capture and sequestration will help new coal plants comply with the standard; they’re available, but are still very expensive.
Richmond, Kentucky is the last site in the U.S. to continue storing the type of chemical weapons allegedly used in Syria. The nerve agents Sarin and VX, banned worldwide, are housed at the Bluegrass Army Depot.
Considered two of the world's most deadly chemical warfare agents, the stockpile is on schedule to be destroyed by 2023.
One of the people overseeing the destruction is Craig Williams, the Chemical Weapons Project Director at the Kentucky Environmental Foundation. He spoke to WKU Public Radio about the weapons stored at the Bluegrass Army Depot.
The chairman of the Kentucky House Judiciary Committee says he is pre-filing legislation that seeks to make clear that Kentuckians are free from the unregulated use of eminent domain.
Hopkinsville Democrat John Tilley says the issue should be clarified in light of the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline. The proposed natural gas liquids pipeline would stretch from Pennsylvania to Louisiana, and cut through an estimated 13 Kentucky counties, including Breckinridge, Hardin, Larue, Meade, and Nelson.
Some landowners in counties along the proposed pipeline route have expressed concerns that the company would seek to use eminent domain laws to seize their land.
Rep. Tilley said in a news release issued by his office that the bill he has pre-filed will “strive to maintain the proper balance between those rights and economic development when it comes to safely transporting fossil fuels.”
"I believe the state needs to paint a brighter line on how pipelines like this are built and where they can be located."
The bill would put the Public Service Commission in the role of gatekeeper if those constructing pipelines can’t reach agreement with private landowners.
One proposed path of the pipeline would extend through northern Kentucky southward into Nelson, Larue, Hardin, Meade and Breckenridge counties.
A spokesman for Williams Company said Wednesday that the proposed route would "stay well to the north of Marion County." Pipeline opponents, including the Sisters of Loretto, have demonstrated against the project, saying it poses environmental risks.
Kentucky lawmakers will hear from both advocates and opponents of a proposed natural gas liquids pipeline Thursday.
If it’s built, the Bluegrass Pipeline would cross more than a dozen central Kentucky counties, carrying natural gas liquids from the Northeast to the Gulf of Mexico. Land agents have been in the state for several months, talking to landowners and asking for permission to survey property.
Some have agreed, but the project has attracted significant grassroots opposition from Kentuckians worried about the safety and environmental issues the pipeline could bring.
Pipeline company Williams says the pipeline would spur economic development and reduce the cost of consumer goods.
The Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Environment meets at 1 p.m. Thursday in the Capitol Annex.
There was a slight drop in both the eastern and western Kentucky coalfields, but western Kentucky still produced slightly more coal—50.2 percent of the total production.
The data estimates there are 12,342 coal miners employed in the state—the lowest since the state began keeping records in 1927. That number represents a loss of 851 jobs, but the losses weren’t even among the coalfields. Eastern Kentucky lost jobs, while Western Kentucky’s coal industry grew slightly.
A developer behind a proposed pipeline that would run through parts of Kentucky is holding an open-house meeting in Hardin County Thursday night to explain their plans. Williams, a construction company based in Tulsa, OK., is hosting the meeting at Pritchard Community Center in Elizabethtown from 5-7:30 p.m.
The Bluegrass Pipeline would carry natural gas liquids from sources in the northeast through northern Kentucky, and into several counties in our listening area, including Hardin, Nelson, Meade, Larue, and Breckinridge.
Pipeline opponents delivered a petition to Governor Beshear’s office Wednesday detailing their concerns about possible environmental damage and property rights concerns related to the project.
Governor Beshear has declined to add the pipeline issue to the agenda of a special legislative session that begins Aug. 19 in Frankfort. Beshear says he wants the sole item on the agenda to be legislative redistricting.
Land owners and environmentalists are gathering in Frankfort Wednesday to protest a proposed pipeline that would carry flammable liquids through several counties in northern Kentucky. A partnership of two energy companies announced a plan earlier this year to build the underground pipeline.
The Bluegrass Pipeline would carry natural gas liquids from sources in the northeast to a connection in Breckinridge County. A proposed route for the pipeline would also go through other counties in our listening area, including Hardin, Nelson, Meade, and Larue.
Environmental groups, including Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, are planning to take a petition to Gov. Steve Beshear's office Wednesday afternoon. In a statement, the groups say they are concerned the pipeline project will use eminent domain laws to cut a pathway through privately owned lands.
Several landowners have voiced opposition to the project, and local governments in Franklin, Scott and Marion counties have passed resolutions opposing the pipeline.