Call to Order and Roll Call
The6th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Environment was held on Thursday, November 1, 2012, at 10:00 AM, at the Kentucky Geological Society Well Sample and Core Library in Lexington, Kentucky. Senator Brandon Smith, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Brandon Smith, Co-Chair; Representative Jim Gooch Jr., Co-Chair; Senators Joe Bowen, Ernie Harris, Ray S. Jones II, Bob Leeper, Katie Stine, Johnny Ray Turner, and Robin L. Webb; Representatives Tim Couch, Keith Hall, Stan Lee, Tim Moore, John Short, Fitz Steele, Jim Stewart III, and Jill York.
Guests: Dr. James Tracy, University of Kentucky, Vice President for Research; Dr. Jim Cobb, Dr. Gerry Weisenfluh, and Dr. Dave Harris, Kentucky Geological Survey; Dr. Rick Honaker, University of Kentucky Department of Mining Engineering; Dr. John Anthony, University of Kentucky Department of Chemistry; Dr. Stephen Lipka, Center for Applied Energy Research; Mr. Steve Sullivan, The Corradine Group; Mr. Steve Gardner, ECSI; Mr. Adam Scott, Kentucky Infrastructure Authority; Mr. Jan Gould, Kentucky Retail Federation; Mr. Geoff Pinkerton, Office of the State Budget Director.
A quorum being established, the minutes from the September 4, 2012 meeting were approved. Dr. James Tracy, University of Kentucky Vice President for Research, welcomed the committee and commented that the University of Kentucky takes interest in research in the areas of energy, environment, and natural resources.
Kentucky Geological Survey
Dr. Jim Cobb, State Geologist and Director of the Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS), described the role, organizational structure, and mission of KGS. KGS is a department of the University of Kentucky, and its mission is derived with input from an advisory board of 12 citizens. Several legislative mandates also inform the KGS mission, such as the requirement to maintain maps of the Commonwealth’s mineral resources. These maps are widely used in the mining industry.
The Energy Independence and Incentives Act provided $5 million for carbon sequestration research. Dr. Cobb explained the research was divided evenly between research in western Kentucky on carbon dioxide (CO2) injection and Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) and in central Kentucky involving a CO2 deep well injection test in Carter County. E-ON, Conoco Phillips, and American Electric Power have provided $8 million additional funds.
In response to a question about the depth of a deep well, Mr. Brandon Nuttall said that the deepest well in Kentucky is approximately 15,200 feet and is located in Webster County.
In response to a question about the relationship between temperature and CO2, Dr. Cobb said that CO2 is released into the geological formation at the same temperature as the formation. The temperature is usually 100 degrees. The CO2 becomes hot as it is compressed and cools down when released.
Dr. Cobb continued that Kentucky has the largest amount of state-supported research into CO2 injection, noting the several existing research wells along the Ohio River. There will be a new well drilled close to the Ohio River. The carbon sequestration research has led to three key findings. First, Kentucky can adequately store CO2 in rock formations. There is proven, adequate storage capacity in the Knox County formation. Second, Kentucky can support cost-effective EOR if the CO2 is purchased in a wholesale manner from power plants. Finally, KGS was successful in using CO2 injection in the Devonian shale for enhanced gas recovery (EGR).
Department of Mining Engineering
Dr. Rick Honaker, Chair, Department of Mine Engineering, described the history of the mining engineering program at the University of Kentucky, the number of faculty and staff, and several studies being performed by the department. Of the more notable studies, one state-funded study on respirable dust is expected to be completed and report findings in the next few months. Another study commissioned by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) aims at developing technologies to identify weak areas in mine roofs. Also, researchers are working on a study to create a fuel feedstock for utilities using biomass and coal. The feedstock will be a pelletized product intended to be used in fluidized beds in coal fired power plants. Dr. Honaker discussed the possible opening of an experimental mine to be used in mine rescue and health and safety training. A feasibility study is being done to examine sites in the Lexington area for such a facility. The facility would be valuable for the University of Kentucky to host visiting trainees and for faculty to teach safety, training, and research.
Dr. Honaker updated the committee on the Environmental Research Initiative. This imitative involves eight universities with funding of $12.5 million to investigate mine safety and water conductivity issues. Some of the resulting research has revealed that it is possible to locate, isolate, and cap the substrate of soil containing selenium in order to prevent it from leaching out and contributing to the increased conductivity of water runoff from mine sites.
In response to a question on long-term drainage from the mine site, Dr. Honaker said that work must be done with mine companies to train their employees on how to remove the selenium and pack the overburden to create the cap. The area is then forested, but the cap has good integrity for preventing further drainage.
Department of Chemistry
Dr. John Anthony described ongoing departmental research on producing renewable energy from agriculture wastes through carbon based materials. Quartz is a good source of silica used for renewable cells, but the process is energy-intensive and expensive. Other materials, including those that use petroleum-based processes like plastics, use less energy. So those materials have a smaller carbon footprint. Also, plastics are cheaper to manufacture. There is a National Science Foundation (NSF) project that is partnering with Cambridge University. Kentucky has a phenomenal set of resources that can be used to make solar panels for export to other states and countries.
In response to a question about whether these materials are used in computer nanotechnology, Dr. Anthony said that the technology is used in computers. The flexible displays which currently use silicon to create pixels can be replaced in the future with carbon; however, the molecular engineering is different from nanotechnology.
Center for Applied Energy Research
Dr. Stephen Lipka updated the committee on the Center for Applied Energy Research’s (CAER) work on electrical energy storage devices. Research areas include: electric, hybrid-electric, and electric grid storage, which is also known as stationary storage. The research involves using bourbon distillation byproducts that are carbohydrate-rich, to prepare carbons which can be used as active materials in energy storage devices such as lithium-ion batteries, fuel cells, and electrochemical capacitors. Electrochemical capacitors are like batteries because both store energy, but capacitors have infinite capacity for storage. Batteries are limited.
Dr. Lipka explained that the electrochemical technology is used in new micro-hybrid vehicles as a part of the fuel-saving idle stop-start system. Part of his research focuses on the quickly rechargeable, long-lasting batteries that must be used to provide the instant restart capability for this technology. Idle stop-start systems will be standard in new vehicles in five to ten years.
In response to a comment about potential investors in the type of research being conducted at the University of Kentucky, Dr. Lipka responded that CAER and the Department of Chemistry have looked into ways to combine research. Dr. Anthony commented that the Department of Chemistry’s research has generated several royalties for the University of Kentucky.
Development of Total Maximum Daily Loads for Nutrient Management
Mr. Scott Smith, Smith Management Group, expressed concern on behalf of several organizations about the Division of Water’s issuance of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). TMDLs are used to reduce pollution in impaired waters in the Commonwealth. Mr. Smith expressed fear that the current process could yield TMDL levels that are unrealistic, and the demanded reductions on effluents could negatively impact agricultural and mining operations in the Commonwealth. The 2012 Draft Integrated Report from the Division of Water lists 2,460 impaired waters in Kentucky, with 41 TMDLs slated for development in 2012 and 114 TMDLs planned for public notice in 2013.
Co-Chairman Gooch commented that the streams designated as impaired are similar to nonattainment for air quality standards. Anyone seeking to obtain a permit will be forced to comply with the TMDL. TMDLs have implications for agriculture, home building, and other industries.
In response to a question about what Smith Management is doing at this time in the way of a reaction to the TMDLs, Mr. Smith commented that the members could help by raising public awareness and educating the public on the possible impacts of an overly-restrictive TMDL. The Legislative Research Commission can provide information on what other states have done and whether there should be any statutory or regulatory changes.
In response to a question about whether road construction will be impacted by TMDLs, Mr. Smith said that while road construction is not named, it will be impacted indirectly. He stated that TMDL is a current issue that has impacted the Chesapeake Bay area, Florida, and the Ohio River Valley.
Rep. Webb requested more research be conducted on the development of TMDLs in other states.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.