environment

Environment
10:28 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Citing Lack of Customer Commitments, Funding Pulled For Bluegrass Pipeline

A petition opposing the Bluegrass Pipeline is presented at the governor's office in November, 2013
Credit Jonathan Meador

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.

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Environment
3:40 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

WKU Celebrates Earth Day with Help of Bus Serving as Mobile Produce Market

Maggie Jolly, 9 (left) and Eliza Beth, 7, and Carter Howell, 10, play in the mobile farmers market on WKU's campus on Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Abbey Oldham

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.

Environment
3:42 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Beshear Awards $100,000 State Grant to Glasgow Project Designed to Convert Methane into Energy

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.

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Environment
6:18 am
Mon March 31, 2014

U.N. Report Raises Climate Change Warning, Points To Opportunities

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report.
ipcc.ch

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 9:07 am

"The effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans," and the world is mostly "ill-prepared" for the risks that the sweeping changes present, a new report from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes.

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Environment
4:38 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Judge: Current Law Does Not Allow for Use of Eminent Domain for Controversial Pipeline Project

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.

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Environment
3:56 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Bill Passed by Kentucky House Would Disallow Eminent Domain for Pipeline Building

Bardstown Republican Rep. David Floyd debates an eminent domain bill in the Kentucky House of Representatives.
Credit Kentucky LRC

The Kentucky House of Representatives has passed a bill that would prevent the use of eminent domain in the construction of a proposed natural gas liquids pipeline.

Lawmakers voted 75-16 in support of the measure, which would only allow public utilities regulated by the state Public Service Commission to use eminent domain.

The measure is aimed at the Bluegrass Pipeline, which would carry byproducts from natural gas drilling in the Northeast to the Gulf of Mexico. It's proposed to cross 13 Kentucky counties.

Bardstown Republican David Floyd says the bill doesn't prevent the pipeline from being built, it just protects landowners from corporations.

“The pipeline will proceed," Floyd said. "What we’re trying to do is protect those private property owners, protect those landowners from the big, multi-state, carpet-bagging companies that want to come here and condemn their property without proper provocation.”

The bill now heads to the Senate.

Environment
8:05 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Bill Heading to Governor's Desk Allows Kentucky's Coal-Fired Plants to Regulate Own Emissions

The bill passed by the Kentucky House and Senate comes at a time when the EPA is trying to crack down on carbon emissions at coal-fired electric power plants.

A bill that would allow coal-fired electric power plants in Kentucky to regulate their own carbon dioxide emissions has passed out of both chamber of the state legislature.

The bill has received massive bipartisan support.

House Bill 388 was filed by Rep. Jim Gooch, who has private interests in coal-related businesses. His bill, which permits coal power plants in Kentucky to regulate their own levels of CO2, one of the major contributors to climate change.

The bill passed in his chamber, as well as the Senate, by unanimous vote.

Hazard Sen. Brandon Smith says the bill is designed to help the coal industry endure a period of hardship due to federal environmental regulations.

“To see us wanting to jump in to these white papers and these new clean air standards they’re pushing down on us without at least fighting back or sending some sort of signal that the House and the Senate do not agree with this, we felt like it left these areas vulnerable," Smith said.

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

Environment
5:57 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Using Hidden Camera Evidence, Environmental Groups Plan to Sue LG&E for Discharges into Ohio River

After collecting a year's worth of images of what they say are illegal discharges from one of Louisville Gas & Electric's coal ash ponds into the Ohio River, environmental groups say they plan to sue the company. 

The Notice of Intent to sue filed by the Sierra Club and Earthjustice alleges that even though LG&E's permit allows “occasional” discharges directly into the Ohio River, the company has released water from its coal ash ponds into the river at least daily for the past five years.

"It’s obvious that they think they can operate with impunity," said Tom Pearce, a local Sierra Club organizer. "It’s the reason that we can’t eat fish out of our river. It’s the reason that our river is rates as one of the dirtiest rivers in the country. Is it any wonder?"

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Environment
4:34 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Water Pollution Violations in Kentucky, Other States, Leads to Millions in Fines for Company

One of the nation's largest coal producers will pay more than $27 million in fines and spend another $200 million in a settlement with the federal government. Alpha Natural Resources was fined for violating water pollution limits in Kentucky and four other Appalachian states.

The settlement is for more than 6,000 violations between 2006 and last year. Some of the violations were at mines owned by other companies—like Massey Energy—that Alpha purchased. The EPA says the company’s Appalachian mines discharged large amounts of heavy metals directly into streams.

Alpha Senior Vice President Gene Kitts says the company has implemented advanced technology to control pollution at some of its coal mines.

"We feel the settlement is fair. We have systems already going into place," he said.

Kitts says the settlement payout won’t affect ongoing operations, or cause the company to close any mines or lay off any workers.

This is the largest penalty the EPA has ever levied under Section 402 of the Clean Water Act. After the settlement was announced, environmental groups sent out a statement criticizing the agency for letting the pollution happen in the first place.

Environment
3:31 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Proposed Bluegrass Pipeline Would Be Impacted by Eminent Domain Bill Passed by Kentucky Commitee

Rep. Johnny Bell (D-Glasgow)
Credit Kentucky LRC

A legislative committee has advanced a bill to clarify Kentucky’s eminent domain laws.

If the bill becomes law it would amend Kentucky law to clarify that natural gas liquids pipelines—including the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline—aren’t eligible for eminent domain in the commonwealth.

Legal experts have disagreed as to whether the Bluegrass Pipeline could use eminent domain to obtain easements to carry the byproducts of gas drilling through Central Kentucky. The Judiciary Committee heard rushed testimony from several landowners, but none of the representatives from the laborers’ international union in attendance spoke. The group has previously voiced support for the pipeline.  

Representative Johnny Bell of Glasgow spoke directly to those union members when casting his vote.

"Those of you who are up here today to protect your jobs, we all appreciate that," the Barren County Democrat said. "Your job is important to you and it’s important to us, but I feel that a person’s property rights is one of the highest rights that we have in this country, so I vote yes on that and thank you all for being here today."

Now that the bill has cleared committee, it will be up for a vote on the House floor before it goes to the Senate.

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