The6th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources was held on Thursday, October 9, 2003, at 12:30 PM CDT, at the Wendell H. Ford Reserve Training Center in Greenville, Kentucky. 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; Senator Elizabeth Tori; Representatives Adrian Arnold, James Bruce, Dwight Butler, Mike Cherry, Tim Couch, Charlie Hoffman, Thomas McKee, Brad Montell, Don Pasley, Marie Rader, Rick Rand, Dottie Sims, Brandon Smith, Tommy Turner, Ken Upchurch, and Brent Yonts.
Guests: Mick Henderson, Commonwealth Agri-Energy; Mike Helton, Kentucky Petroleum Council; and Commissioner Tom Bennett, Department of Fish and Wildlife.
LRC Staff: Dan Risch, Tanya Monsanto, DeVon Hankins, Hank Marks, D. Todd Littlefield, Biff Baker, Sheri Mahan, Rhonda Carter, and Kelly Blevins.
Representative Gooch asked Representative Roger Thomas, co-chair of the Subcommittee on Rural Issues, to report for the Subcommittee. Representative Thomas said the meeting had centered on economic development programs targeted to rural areas. He said that explanations were given of programs within the Economic Development Cabinet and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Representatives of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the West Kentucky Corporation reported on agritourism programs. Finally, the dead animal removal program, the beef cattle improvement program, and the Aquaculture Task Force were explained.
Next, Senator Ernie Harris reported for the Subcommittee on Natural Resources. He said that Commissioner Frank Delzer updated the subcommittee on the number of coal mine fatalities, injuries, and serious accidents in 2003. Significant points covered during the presentation were: (1) the cause and number of fatalities which has decreased in recent years; and (2) changes needed to the electrical safety standards in mines because rapidly changing technology makes the current standards obsolete. Next, Commissioner Tom Bennett of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources discussed shooting preserves. He explained that the moratorium on new shooting preserve permits is still in effect. The reason for the moratorium is to control chronic wasting disease. He also said regulations have been revised to permit the transport of deer within the state.
Representative Brent Yonts welcomed the committee and guests to his district. He also expressed his appreciation to Peabody Coal Company and to the Kentucky Coal Association for allowing members to tour a surface coal mine and an underground coal mine earlier in the day. Representative Gooch thanked Commissioner Tom Bennett of the Department Fish and Wildlife Resources and his staff for preparing the lunch for the committee.
Next, Representative Gooch asked Mr. Mick Henderson to report on the status of the Hopkinsville Elevator ethanol plant. Mr. Henderson, who is the project manager for the plant, provided prepared remarks that are included with the meeting materials on file in the LRC library. In overview, Mr. Henderson explained that the Hopkinsville Elevator Co-op is the second largest grain marketing co-op in the southeast. He said the ethanol plant is designed to use 7.4 million bushels of Kentucky produced grains. He also said the plant will take full advantage of the processing of grain to produce, not only ethanol, but other marketable products like distiller's dry grains which can be fed to livestock and carbon dioxide, which is dry ice.
Next, Mr. Mike Helton, on behalf of the Kentucky Petroleum Council, reported on ethanol use in reformulated gasoline, the phase-out of the use of MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) in gasoline, and the status of meeting federal sulphur reductions in diesel fuel by using biodiesel. A copy of Mr. Helton's prepared remarks are with the meeting materials on file in the LRC library. The report has been required by legislation (SB 13) enacted by the 2003 General Assembly. In summary, Mr. Helton reported that MTBE has been replaced by ethanol in all reformulated gasoline (RFG) sold in Kentucky. He added that all companies are well on the way to phasing out the use of MTBE for non-RFG uses. Finally, he said that refineries are still in the process of retrofitting their facilities for production of fuels to comply with low sulphur requirements. He did point out that in most of the projects designed to test the use of biodiesel, the additional costs attributable to biodiesel are paid for by a government agency or a non-governmental organization.
Finally, the last topic was presented by Commissioner Tom Bennett, of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Mr. Bennett described the economic benefits that accrue to the state by people engaging in fish and wildlife activities. As an example, he contrasted the cost of a basic hunting and fishing license of $15 with approximately $2600 a person may spend to hunt deer. He then invited members to step outside to sample skeet shooting or fishing with assistance from Fish and Wildlife officials.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 3:00 p.m. CDT.