Senate committee passes important, Chamber-supported energy bills

The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy met Wednesday and passed SB 188, an act related to oil and gas well sites and SB 89, an act related to nuclear power.

SB 188, sponsored by Senator Jared Carpenter of Berea, creates a definition for stratigraphic test wells, requires that they be permitted and follow regulatory requirements and permitted as a well prior to actually producing oil or gas.  The bill also allows for a three year period of confidentiality of information produced by the test well upon completion of the drill.  Test wells allow drillers to collect important subsurface information.

The exploration and development of deep shale layers has greatly increased the supply of natural gas in the U.S. thereby reducing the cost of the resource.  Though Kentucky is not one of the highest producing states for oil and gas, Bill Barr, Government Affairs Chairman for the Ky. Oil and Gas Association, testified that approximately 3,000 Kentuckians are employed in the industry earning an average wage of $75,000.

The bill is a product of the Kentucky Oil and Gas Workgroup convened by the former secretary for the Energy and Environment Cabinet.  The Chamber participated as a member of the workgroup.  It passed the committee unanimously.

Also passing the committee was SB 89, sponsored by Senator Danny Carroll of Paducah.  The bill would lift what is effectively a ban on nuclear power plant construction in Kentucky by allowing for onsite storage of spent nuclear fuel at a Kentucky facility.  Current law requires that a federal repository for disposal of the spent fuel be available to take the material in order to operate a nuclear power facility.

Senator Danny Carroll spoke about the cleanup and closure efforts at the USEC facility in his district and that the jobs at the site are “at the mercy of the federal budget.”  The site could one day be the location of a nuclear power plant or a manufacturing facility that supports the nuclear industry.  The bill passed committee and moves to the full Senate for a vote.

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