The3rd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources was held on Wednesday, November 13, 2002, at 1:00 PM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Representative James Gooch, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Ernie Harris, Co-Chair; Representatives James Gooch, Co-Chair, and Roger Thomas, Co-Chair; Senators Paul Herron Jr, Robert Leeper, Vernie McGaha, and Virgil Moore; Representatives Royce Adams, Rocky Adkins, Woody Allen, Sheldon Baugh, Dwight Butler, Mike Cherry, Hubert Collins, James Comer, Charlie Hoffman, Thomas McKee, Fred Nesler, Don Pasley, Tanya Pullin, Marie Rader, William Scott, Dottie Sims, Jim Stewart, Gary Tapp, Mark Treesh, Johnnie Turner, Tommy Turner, Ken Upchurch, Robin L. Webb, and Brent Yonts.
Legislative Guests: Senator Dick Roeding
Guests: Roy Grimes, Jim Rich, Frank Brown, Robert C. Webb, Allen Gaylor, Ellen Benzing, Thomas Baker, Scott Porter, Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources; Gary Forman, Public Service Commission; Rowland Beers, League of Kentucky Sportsmen; Caryl Pfeiffer, Kentucky Utilities and LG&E; Stephen A. Coleman, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet, Division of Conservation; Donna G. Brown; Libby Marshall, Municipal Electricity Producers Association of Kentucky; Bill Caylor, Kentucky Coal Association; David Sparrow, University of Kentucky; and Mark Farrow, Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
LRC Staff: Dan Risch, Biff Baker, DeVon Hankins, D. Todd Littlefield, Hank Marks, Tanya Monsanto, and Kelly Blevins.
Representative James Gooch, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order and requested that the roll be taken. He then asked for and received a motion to approve the minutes of the October 9 meeting. The motion passed.
Next, Representative Roger Thomas, Co-Chair, gave a report for the Subcommittee to Study the Establishment of a Farm Museum. He announced that the subcommittee had met in the morning and discussed the comparison of six museums that staff had researched. Also there were guests in attendance who talked about the importance to the state of developing an agricultural museum and where it might be located. He noted that funding was discussed. He stated that staff will summarize the testimony and discussions from this morning as well as discussions from the first meeting and that a report will be delivered to LRC in December. A motion was made and seconded to accept the subcommittee report. The motion passed.
Next, Chairman Jim Gooch reported for the Subcommittee to Study the Competitiveness of Kentucky Coal. He said that Mike Murphy from Illinois and Jackie Byrd from Ohio discussed some of the incentives that their respective states have used to encourage the use of coal in the state. Also in attendance were representatives from the Public Service Commission (PSC) who talked about the Commission’s role in rate making, and the procurement of coal by utilities and looking at the price competitiveness of coal. He noted that they received an update on the case involving the use of Kentucky coal by LG&E. Given that the meeting ran over time and some of the presenters were not able to testify, Representative Gooch invited them to present at the full committee’s meeting.
Mr. Bill Grable, Kentucky Coal Marketing and Export Council, thanked the committee for the opportunity to talk about their market share loss. He distributed a report prepared by the Energy Publishing Company LLC at the request of the Kentucky Coal Council. While Mr. Grable’s document was being passed out, Chairman Gooch, introduced a new staff member DeVon Hankins. He also noted the absence of Annett Dupont-Ewing who is Chair of the Kentucky Energy Policy Advisory Board and acknowledged that there may have been some miscommunication with regard to her presenting today. He apologized if this was the case. However, he stated that in the future when organizations are requested to present to the committee that they are expected to adhere to the request, even if their report is preliminary and not the final draft.
Mr. Grable quoted statistics showing the market loss experienced by Kentucky coal producers in the area of steam coal. Mr. Grable also outlined and discussed a number of the variables affecting the decline in the industry and noted that they were detrimental to Kentucky’s economy. He spoke at length about petcoke (petroleum coke, a byproduct of oil refining), giving a brief overview of its market situation and a history of its origin, formulation and use. Mr. Grable recommended that the PSC hold an investigation on burning petcoke instead of coal.
Representative Webb asked Mr. Grable about the petcoke specs regarding the high sulfur content and its effect on emissions. Mr. Grable stated that it will change the ability to market ash (which is the waste component resulting from burning petcoke or coal for energy production), noting that the metal content is too high with regard to retailing the product. Representative Webb then asked what is the federal regulatory landscape with regard to the metals and high sulfur emissions. Mr. Grable responded that to his knowledge nothing has been changed as it pertains to sulfur. He noted that with clean coal technology they could deal with these types of issues. Representative Webb said that this issue should be part of what they are proposing as part of looking at the environmental impacts and how it would affect the Clean Air Act and other potential toxins. She also stated that she would like to see these issues included if there are any other studies done.
Representative Baugh asked about the market for ash. Mr. Grable spoke about the various uses for ash, listing products such as gypsum, drywall, and concrete blocks. Representative Baugh then asked if technology existed to extract the metal from the ash. Mr. Grable said that he wasn’t aware of any technology that could do this. Mr. Don Bowles, a coal operator, spoke about the various uses of bottom ash and its related issues in response to Representative Baugh’s question. Chairman Gooch noted that they are using the current technology which does not remove the metal from the ash.
Representatives Baugh and Allen questioned why metals are not removed if they are considered detrimental to the environment. Mr. Grable said that the Natural Resources Cabinet could best answer this question.
Representative Sims asked what amount of coal is dug up when building roads in Kentucky. Mr. Grable stated that he was not sure and suggested that this was a transportation question. However he didn’t think there was an appreciable amount found, and noted that what was found could not be sold.
Mr. Grable’s final remarks emphasized how critical the issue is. Mr. Bowles noted the need to have a partner to do research on petcoke, displacing coal, and to develop the needed technology to gain back Kentucky’s coal competitiveness.
A motion was made and seconded to accept the subcommittee report. The motion passed.
Chairman Gooch then recognized and introduced the newly elected state representative for the 88th District, State Representative-elect Bill Farmer.
Next, Commissioner Tom Bennett of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources reported on the issue of chronic wasting disease (CWD). He stated that last week the state of Illinois confirmed their first case of the disease. He noted that they are more concerned about the impact on deer than on elk. Commissioner Bennett provided an overview of the current situation, a history of the disease, and the possible impact on the Kentucky economy.
Representative Sims asked how would a person identify CWD. Dr. Gaylor of the Department stated that an infected animal would display poor body condition and look emaciated.
Representative Allen asked if the disease can be transmitted to cattle. Dr. Gaylor said no known cases have been documented. Representative Allen then asked if a herd gets infected, who is responsible for the loss of the farmer’s cattle. Commissioner Bennett stated that the USDA indemnification program covers the farmer.
Representative Adkins stated that he has received calls from farmers who have lost cattle and have sent them to UK for testing. Commissioner Bennett said that he wasn’t aware that any reports of CWD have been made in the state to date.
Representative Pasley asked how many border states currently allow the import of cervids. The Commissioner responded that every border state except for Ohio and Tennessee are now closed to importation. Representative Pasley suggested that perhaps Kentucky should try to persuade these states to close their borders as well.
Representative McKee commended the Department on their work on CWD. He then noted that in Harrison County the hunting numbers were low and asked if this was true across the state. The Commissioner stated that the first two days of the season were down from last year’s numbers. However, he noted that some of the decline was due to the warm weather.
Representative Thomas asked for an update on implementation of HB 470 from the 2002 regular session. The Commissioner said that they have notified the public of the availability of temporary elk farm permits and feels that they are making good progress. Representative Thomas then asked of the 23 states that have banned imports, have any of them been recent decisions. The Commissioner stated that most of the 23 states implemented their import bans around the first part of 2002. Representative Thomas asked if the states that allow elk imports are requiring that the elk come from a certified CWD disease free state. The Commissioner said that most of the 23 states practice this protocol. Representative Thomas then asked if the recent reaction of the Governor to ban imports was based on the fact that the disease had entered a border state. The Commissioner stated yes.
Next Dr. Jim Tidwell, Coordinator of Aquaculture Programs with Kentucky State University, gave an overview of their preliminary report on HJR 210 of the 2002 regular session, requiring an examination of the potential of reservoir ranching in Kentucky. Dr. Tidwell spoke briefly on the intent of the resolution, provided a handout and discussed the survey technique used. He noted that they had conducted three public hearings across the state and a random survey mailing to 4,000 individuals. He also stated that the final report would be available in January 2003.
Representative Collins asked how many people actually received the survey. Dr. Tidwell said that roughly 6,000 individuals had been surveyed. Representative Collins also asked if that amount was an representative sample of the population of Kentucky. Dr. Tidwell said yes. Representative Collins then stressed his concern about the negative effects of reservoir ranching on many of Kentucky’s fishing lakes.
Next, Representative Baugh asked if there were any wild species of paddlefish in the lakes being studied. Dr. Tidwell stated yes. Representative Baugh asked if paddlefish were harvested for their meat, eggs or both. Dr. Tidwell said the intent would be for both. Representative Baugh then asked if paddlefish were native to Kentucky’s lakes. Dr. Tidwell stated they are basically native to the Mississippi river basin.
Senator Harris acknowledged Representative Collins’s concern regarding the potential damage that reservoir ranching could do to Kentucky’s lakes and noted that there was an exit strategy, which has been developed scientifically and includes state-wide input.
Representative Collins suggested that the research group hold more than three meetings, specifically in the reservoir areas. Representative Webb suggested that the research group allow various sporting groups to make a presentation to the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources and urged the committee to speak with the Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Wildlife regarding this issue.
Next, Senator Harris presented a resolution opposing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Standard Market Design Regulation. He explained that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission plans to submit a notice of proposed rule making, which would modify a tariff to create a single transmission service under uniform rules. This change would require long-term bilateral commitments and agreements between states and users. Senator Harris made a motion to adopt the resolution. The resolution was adopted.
Next, Commissioner Frank Delzer of the Department of Mines and Minerals gave a brief overview of their legislative agenda for the 2003 regular session. He stated that the main focus was on the rewriting of electrical statutes. However, he noted that specific issues relating to explosives and blasting, emergency personnel and procedures, oil and gas bonding requirements may also be addressed.
Representative Collins asked if a blasters license in the mining industry is the same as in the transportation industry. Commissioner Delzer stated that there are 2 types of blasters licenses and both require a 3 year renewable background check.
Representative Webb asked how many unplugged wells existed in the state. Commissioner Delzer said that there was potentially a $48 million liability to plug all abandoned wells in Kentucky. Representative Webb recommended that the committee hold a special hearing regarding this issue.
Next, Senator Roeding reported on a pre-filed bill relating to vehicle emissions testing in northern Kentucky (03RS BR 147). He stated that the bill would require government vehicles to be tested on the same basis as privately owned vehicles.
Finally, Representative Gooch asked the committee to consider a resolution memorializing Secretary James E. Bickford. He then asked for and received a motion to adopt the resolution. The resolution was adopted.
The committee adjourned at approximately 3:00pm.