The1st meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources was held on Wednesday, June 18, 2003, at 1:00 PM, in the Grande Ballroom of the Madison Center in Covington, Kentucky. Senator Ernie Harris, 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 David Boswell, Paul Herron Jr., Robert Leeper, Vernie McGaha, Joey Pendleton, Tim Shaughnessy, and Damon Thayer; Representatives Royce Adams, Rocky Adkins, Adrian Arnold, James Bruce, Dwight Butler, Mike Cherry, Hubert Collins, James Comer, Tim Couch, Mike Denham, Keith Hall, Jimmy Higdon, Charlie Hoffman, Thomas McKee, Brad Montell, Fred Nesler, Don Pasley, Marie Rader, Rick Rand, Dottie Sims, Brandon Smith, Tommy Turner, Ken Upchurch, Robin L. Webb, and Susan Westrom.
Guests: Secretary Hank List and Deputy Secretary Mark Mangeot, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet; Shana Herron, Community Farm Alliance; Rusty Cress; Van Needham, Cinergy; Bruce Williams; Eric Gregory, East Kentucky Power Co-op; Greg Pauley, American Electric Power; Tori Jones and Patrick Jennings, Kentucky Farm Bureau; Mark Farrow, Kentucky Department of Agriculture; Bobby Gierisch, Rural Policy Research Institute; George Siemens, Kentucky Utilities; Tom Fitzgerald, Kentucky Resources Council; and David Switzer, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association.
LRC Staff: Hank Marks, Tanya Monsanto, DeVon Hankins, Sheri Mahan, Kelly Blevins, Kim Phelps, Randy Smith, and Becky Barnes.
Chairman Harris introduced Ms. Lisa Wilson of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce who provided instructions and directions relating to evening events and parking passes.
Chairman Harris provided the dates and general agenda topics for the remaining committee meetings. He said that anyone wishing to add items to the planned agendas should contact him, Representative Gooch, or Representative Thomas.
Subcommittee reports were made; for the Rural Issues subcommittee by Representative Thomas, for the Natural Resources subcommittee by Chairman Harris, for the Horse Farming subcommittee by Representative Westrom and Senator Thayer. All reports were adopted unanimously by voice vote.
Chairman Harris stated that subcommittees would meet at least four more times this interim.
Chairman Thomas introduced persons representing the Northern Kentucky Farmers Market. Mr. Hager briefly described the development history of the project and the participating counties. He then introduced Mr. Tom West.
Mr. West discussed the project in detail, relating the project to the smart growth concept, urban revitalization, and farmland preservation. He discussed the economic and projected employment benefits for the project. He discussed the general concept of a farmers market. Mr. West explained how the market would be operated, funded, managed, and the space and building plans/requirements for the market. He presented the results of a market study done for the proposal/project in terms of the projected customer base, products to be sold, the demographics of producers and consumers, and non-farm beneficiaries of the project. He stated that the conclusion of those doing the study was that, "the potential for success of this market is tremendous". He stated that they were asking the Agriculture Development Board for a one-time investment of $5,000,000 on which there would be a projected return of $4,000,000 per year to northern Kentucky farmers. He identified all those involved with the development of the project, stated that the Development Board will vote on the proposal on July 18 and asked for support.
Chairman Thomas asked if support from adjoining counties had been secured. He was told, yes.
Senator Boswell stated his support for the farmers market concept and asked how surrounding counties are involved as applicants. He was told that the applicant is the farmers regional market corporation and that the surrounding county boards are represented within that corporation.
Chairman Thomas observed that the address of the corporation is in Kenton County and, to that extent, the application is from Kenton county, but the corporation represents all the participating counties.
Senator Thayer expressed support for the project and asked about the level of local government support. He further asked when the market would begin operating if the project was funded. Mr. West provided a detailed explanation of city and county government support and the financial arrangements relating to property acquisition. He stated the market would open partially next spring.
Representative McKee asked for a description of the farmers and products intended to be involved, and if farmers and products from outside Kentucky will be part of the market. He was provided with a description of contacts with farmers and efforts to inform them of the market and was told that, in the event products are unavailable from Kentucky, they may be brought in from elsewhere.
Senator McGaha asked how many of the 45 identified farmers in the market are tobacco farmers. Presenters responded that about 35 have been involved with tobacco. Senator McGaha asked for a description of the distribution of the $5,000,000 "spin-off" to be generated by the project. Presenters responded that the total is actually $8 million, of which $4,000,000 will go directly to rural areas and $4,000,000 will stay in Covington related to sales. Senator McGaha asked if that means the Board will retain the funds. Presenters respond, no, that the non-rural money generated will go to workers/employees involved with individual retail sales and market operations and businesses. No money will go to the market Board except lease income.
Chairman Thomas expressed support for the idea and thanked the presenters.
Chairman Thomas turned the meeting chair over to Chairman Gooch.
Chairman Gooch discussed the Brownfield concept; including: the sites; the 2002 legislation; subsequent regulation promulgation and withdrawal; the continuing absence of a regulation; and the consequent inability to initiate the program.
Mr. Bruce Traughber, was introduced for a description of issues. Mr. Traughber discussed the brownfield development concept and the legislative history in Kentucky. Mr. Traughber stated that Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet (NREPC) regulations are so stringent that they discourage brownfields development in Kentucky.
Senator Harris asked for the number of brownfields in northern Kentucky. The presenter stated that there were about 250. Senator Harris asked if there were any immediately ready to go when regulations are approved. Mr. Fidler stated that he did not know about individual sites which would be known to local government but that it is difficult to know what the status without clear direction regarding program requirements and the relief from liability that would be provided such a program. Meanwhile sites do not contribute to the tax base or economic development and put pressure on rural areas for development.
Dr. Mark Klan of the University of Louisville provided a toxicology analysis. He directed the committee's attention to the Summary of "A General Technical Review of Risk Assessment Methodology and Remediation Standards" covering risk assessment methodology and remediation standards, and EPA Region 9 and Region 4 guidance provided to the committee. A program summary and screening values comparison was presented including the Pennsylvania Land Recyling Program, and other states; Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia. The conclusion presented was that "In all cases, the proposed KDEP "screening values" are lower (more restrictive) than the Region 9 proposed remediation goals (PRGs) or screening values from other states. Kentucky currently does not have an effective Voluntary Environmental Remediation Program."
Senator Leeper asked how is was that the state went from legislation calling for use of Region 9 screening levels to the very stringent requirements of the withdrawn regulation. Dr. Klan stated that the legislation, in addition to screen values, also authorized the cabinet to determine remediation goals. He described the end result of that determination as "conservatism built on conservatism built on conservatism."
Chairman Gooch observed that the program summary provided showed that while other states have cleaned up thousands of brownfields, Kentucky, which was behind to begin with, now still does not have an operating brownfields redevelopment program.
Mr. Tom Fidler provided an overview of the Pennsylvania brownfields legislation and program. He noted that Kentucky has received two "Phoenix" awards for brownfields redevelopment and thus, clearly, the will to have a brownfields program is present in Kentucky. He discussed the elements that contribute to the program's success in redeveloping thousands of properties in almost all of Pennsylvania's counties. He noted that cleanup standards are related to the intended use of he property, and that there are several options provided by the program for cleanup standards (site-specific, statewide health, and background). He discussed the role of the Science Advisory Board.
In response to a statement by Chairman Gooch the presenter confirmed that more than 1300 sites have been cleaned up in Pennsylvania and none has been overridden by the federal EPA.
Mr. Fidler discussed the use of institutional controls and deed restrictions. He also discussed legal/financial arrangements, funding sources, and tax incentives associated with the program. He discussed the extension of the program concept to "grayfields" or abandoned mine sites.
Chairman Gooch asked if federal funds were involved with grayfield development. The presenter said yes.
The presenter introduced Kevin Reinert, chairman of the Science Advisory Board in Pennsylvania. Mr. Reinert described the general role of the CSSAB, its membership, and its functions. He provided and discussed a sample agenda by way of example of the function of the board. He identified present and previous subcommittees of the board and the brownfields issues with which they were concerned. Finally, he discussed the Board's role in relationship to risk assessment standards and other key issues resolved or underway via the CSSAB.
Senator Leeper asked the presenters if they could determine the number of sites in Pennsylvania that would be cleaned up if Kentucky standards had been in place. Mr. Fidler stated that the number of sites that are cleaned up is directly a function of the reasonableness of the standards that are selected. After a brief discussion of the relationship of standards to the number of sites that get cleaned up Senator Leeper stated that since no one could say what percentage of Pennsyvania brownfields would be redeveloped if Kentucky standards had been in place he said that he (Sen. Leeper) would guess that zero percent would be cleaned up if Kentucky standards had been used in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Fidler was asked about and provided an explanation of tax incentives funding sources, and loan funds related to the Pennsylvania brownfields program. He was also asked about the number and effects of site cleanups and he stated that an estimated 30,000 jobs have been created by the site cleanups in Pennsylvania. He also noted that these sites were now a part of the tax base and relieved the need to use "greenfields" for industrial development.
Senator Leeper asked Mr. Fidler to repeat the four requirements of a successful brownfields program. Mr. Fidler stated that they were: uniform, reasonable cleanup standards; liability relief; timely and standardized reviews; and financial assistance.
Senator Pendleton stated that he was embarrassed that Kentucky is so far behind other states in getting a brownfields program operating and that he would like to hear from the cabinet (NREPC) regarding how the standards were arrived at, standards that Senator Pendleton stated basically killed the bill. Mr. Fidler was asked about and discussed the timeline in Pennsylvania from bill passage to cleanup standards to program operation. He stated that because of the reasonableness of Pennsylvania standards site developers were using the draft standards to start redevelopment even before the program itself was operational. Senator Pendleton stated that he hoped that by January that things in Kentucky can be turned around.
Chairman Gooch invited the cabinet (NREPC) to respond. Hank List, Secretary of the NREPC stated that he had not expected to put the committee through cabinet testimony at this meeting. He stated that the people who have been brought before the committee were there because he wanted the committee to hear what they had to say; that the issues were very difficult and important for the environment and the health of the constituents of the committee members. He noted his role as chair of the Brownfields Task Force and the withdrawal of the regulation to avoid a declaration of deficiency (and the need to start all over again if that had happened). Secretary List stated that he wanted both the committee and members of his cabinet to hear about the Pennsylvania program and what was done there to get to where the program is today, and that he wants Kentucky to get there to.
Chairman Gooch stated that when the cabinet moved so far beyond the standards as identified in the bill that the cabinet (NREPC) was legislating by regulation.
After some concluding remarks Ms. Lisa Wilson was invited back before the committee to discuss arrangements for parking and evening events.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at approximately 3:45 p.m.