The 2012 session of the Kentucky Legislature is proving to be a stormy and difficult one, as expected. Environmental legislation has so far been sidelined as legislators are preoccupied with redistricting and the biennial budget. These issues remain unresolved and threaten to further divert attention from other matters.
To the extent possible, we have decided to focus on bills that we can support. Currently, only a few measures have been introduced that we feel compelled to oppose; two of those are resolutions rather than bills. For more information, we encourage you to look at the KCC and KRC bill trackers at http://kyconservation.org/wp-content/uploads/BillSummary01242012-1.pdf and http://www.kyrc.org/.
To access the description, text, sponsors, or legislative history of a bill, simply click on the bill number in blue. Information on how to contact your legislator is provided at the bottom of this file. Besides contacting your legislator on a bill, please contact the chair of the committee into which the bill has been introduced and, if you feel strongly, also call and leave a message for “house leadership” or “Senate leadership” as appropriate.
Measures We Strongly Support
HB 167/LM This bill establishes renewable and energy efficiency portfolio requirements for electric generating facilities, a feed-in tariff, and measures to promote weatherization of low-income housing stock was developed by the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance (KySEA), of which the Cumberland Chapter of the Sierra Club is a founding member. It is our strongest legislative priority. For more on the bill and the effort to get it enacted, go to www.KySEA.org.
HB 187 This enhanced net metering bill was developed by the Kentucky Solar Society and we strongly support it; it would make it possible for commercial and industrial establishments to install solar or wind facilities with the assurance that they could sell the excess electricity produced to their electric utility at an established and worthwhile rate.
HB 231 This is the current version of “the stream saver” bill that Kentuckians for the Commonwealth has introduced each of the last several years and a bill we strongly endorse. It would protect the headwater streams of Eastern Kentucky from being buried and otherwise defiled by Mountaintop Removal mining. For more information on how you can support this bill, go to http://www.kftc.org/take-action/ilm-2012.
HCR 64, SR 107 These companion bills would create a Timber Theft and Trespass Reduction Taskforce to make recommendations on legislation to address the problem. Timber theft is a major problem in the state, and this is a small but welcome step toward addressing it.
Measures We Support
HB 255 This bill, which has already been passed 94 to 0 in the House promotes and incentivizes energy efficiency in the schools and creates the Kentucky Green Schools Authority. It is a modest but useful step toward a clean energy future for Kentucky and one which was created and endorsed by House leadership—a good sign.
HB 103 This bill appropriates use of a small percentage of the budget reserve fund for alternative fuel, agricultural, and water quality research.
HJR 52 This resolution authorizes an LRC (Legislative Research Committee) study of advances in transportation technology and fuel efficiency.
Measures We Oppose
HB 226 has been introduced into the House Transportation Committee. In Tom FitzGerald’s words, this bill “would allow bill board owners to apply for a permit to “trim” public right of way trees in order to assure the motoring public would be exposed to billboard messages.” This is the latest round of the long-running battle between those seeking to preserve green spaces along highways and those more concerned with advertising and income.
Both of the resolutions we oppose were authored by Fitz Steele and seek to safeguard strip mining companies from the consequences of appropriately enforced regulation.
HCR 12, which we strongly oppose, is a “Resolution expressing concern about the OSMRE (Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement) stream protection rule.” We want to help OSMRE protect head water streams in Eastern Kentucky from the degradations of strip mining in the mountains, not handcuff them.
HJR 11, the other Steele resolution, seeks to undermine the EPA conductivity guidance for the Eastern Kentucky coal fields and to divert a portion of the 404 “in lieu” funds generated from surface mining permits in cases where the company chooses not to mitigate damage to streams done during mining. The money would be diverted to the replacement of straight pipes and building sewer infrastructure. While we agree that straight pipes and uncontrolled sewage are problems in Eastern Kentucky, we do not feel that the legislature should divert money needed to address the water problems created by surface mining to this purpose.