EPA Brownfield Grant Applications Due in December

Guidance is available online for those who wish to apply

Do you own a blighted property or want to develop one with a questionable environmental history? You may have a brownfield – a property that has been abandoned or underutilized due to contamination or the perception of contamination.

Grants are available through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) FY 2020 brownfield grant program to assess and remediate these properties to get them back to productive use. The grants are open to local governments, nonprofits and quasi-governmental agencies.

  • Assessment grants allow communities to inventory, characterize, assess, conduct cleanup planning, and encourage involvement around sites in their communities.
  • Cleanup grants are used to perform remediation activities at brownfield sites.
  • Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) grants are used to establish grant and loan programs for cleanup activities.

The EPA has released guidance for the FY 2020 brownfield grants on the EPA brownfield funding page. Grant writing resources, including checklists, sample support letters and successful grant applications, can be found on the Kentucky Brownfield Redevelopment Program website.

Grant applications are due to the EPA on Dec. 3, 2019.

The Kentucky Brownfield Redevelopment Program staff can provide review and feedback on grant applications as can staff from the regional New Jersey Institute of Technology Technical Assistance for Brownfields.

If you are interested in submitting a grant application or want to learn more about how to utilize federal brownfield grants and state resources for properties in your community with an environmental past, contact eric.eisiminger@ky.gov or elizabeth.mcnulty@ky.gov for more information.

 

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Clean Diesel Grant Funding Announced

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 8, 2019) – The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) today announced the 2019 Kentucky Clean Diesel Grant Program, which will provide more than $320,000 to fund projects to reduce diesel emissions from aging school buses in the Commonwealth.

All Kentucky public school districts and private schools that own and operate school buses are eligible to apply for funding through this grant program, which will reimburse up to 25 percent of the total cost of the purchase of a new school bus replacement. Grant recipients are responsible for the remaining 75 percent.

“We hope school districts across the Commonwealth will take advantage of this program that will protect the health of our children by reducing diesel emissions and improving air quality,” Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely said.

Diesel exhaust contains a mixture of fine particles, nitrogen oxides, and more than 40 hazardous air pollutants. These pollutants have a negative impact on human health, especially for children who have a faster breathing rate than adults and whose lungs are not yet fully developed.

Thanks to recent advancements in diesel technology, new buses emit up to 98 percent less particulate matter and up to 90 percent less nitrogen oxide than those built before 1995.  

“This program will make it easier for school districts to replace older, more polluting buses with newer, cleaner ones,” said Division for Air Quality director Melissa Duff. “Not only do our communities benefit from cleaner air, but so do bus passengers, since exhaust is often pulled into the vehicle cabin when doors are opened.”

Priority will be given to awarding grants to applicants that are located in an area not meeting current air quality standards, proposals that achieve the most cost-effective emission reductions, and applications that demonstrate the most emissions reductions.

The deadline to apply for funds is November 13, 2019.  Successful applicants will have until August 2, 2021 to complete their projects. To apply, visit the Division for Air Quality’s web-site.

Drought Declarations Issued Throughout Kentucky

Level 1 and Level 2 Declarations Cover the Commonwealth

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and the Office of the State Climatologist, in coordination with the Kentucky drought mitigation team, have issued a Level 2 drought declaration for 78 counties and a Level 1 declaration for 42 counties.

A Level 2 drought declaration has been issued for areas in eastern, central and parts of western Kentucky and could lead to substantial agricultural losses, diminished stream flows in small streams and rivers and increases in the occurrence of wildfires. If drought conditions persist, it is expected that some water utilities will have difficulties treating water and may begin issuing conservation advisories or implementing water-use restrictions due to limited water supplies.

A Level 1 drought declaration has been issued for areas in western and northeastern Kentucky indicating moderate to severe drought conditions have developed primarily affecting soil moisture and vegetative health. Serious impacts to agricultural water needs, an increased wildfire risk, abnormally low flows in streams, and resultant water quality issues can be expected in the designated areas.

The Commonwealth has been experiencing unprecedented dryness, with most locations recording little to no precipitation during the month of September. This lack of precipitation, combined with record heat, has led to rapidly deteriorating conditions.

“The combination of hot, dry weather that set in across Kentucky in August reached an unprecedented level during September, based on the period of record dating back to 1895,” said Stu Foster, state climatologist for Kentucky. “As a result, drought conditions have developed rapidly as we enter what is climatologically the driest time of the year.”

Public water supplies are not seriously affected at this time, but persistent drought conditions will increase the risk of water shortage conditions, especially for those systems relying on small lakes, small headwater streams and wells located in drought-vulnerable aquifers.  Low water levels in lakes can also lead to water quality issues that could present treatment challenges for utilities.

The Kentucky Division of Water continues to monitor all the state’s water systems and their sources of supply, including notifying the public of any changes that may lead to water shortages.

The hot, dry conditions have had a serious impact on agricultural interests, especially when it comes to cattle production. Severely diminished pasture conditions have led to limited fall grazing, and in turn, forced many producers to feed winter hay well ahead of schedule.  Numerous county agents are reporting hay yields cut in half, while moisture availability has put a halt to pasture renovations.

Matt Dixon, with the UK Ag Weather Center, said data at the weather center showed the state averaged only 0.28 inches of rain during the month. “This has led farm ponds and streams to diminish tremendously, which has pushed some producers to start hauling water,” Dixon said.

The forecast shows relief from the record heat beginning later this week, but the long-term outlooks indicates below-normal precipitation for the next 30 days.

The Kentucky Drought Mitigation and Response Plan defines a tiered approach to classifying drought severity using multiple indicators to assess the intensity and location of a developing drought. These indicators include the Drought Monitor, Palmer Drought Index, Crop Moisture Index, and precipitation and streamflow measurements.

More information about drought declaration criteria can be found in the Kentucky Drought Mitigation and Response Plan.

drought map 2019

 

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Fall Wildfire Hazard Season Begins October 1

Many local burn bans in place

Tomorrow, October 1, is the beginning of the Fall Wildfire Hazard Season, bringing burning restrictions to communities not already under a local burn ban.

The Commonwealth’s 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Burning Law (KRS149.400) prohibits burning before 6 p.m. if the fire is in, or within 150 feet of, woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.

“These restrictions are in effect every Fall (October 1 – December 15) and Spring (February 15 – April 30) Wildfire Hazard Season to help prevent wildfires under normal conditions,” said James Wright, Director of the Kentucky Division of Forestry. “By adhering to the law and burning after 6 p.m., fires are less likely to escape. Over the last several weeks, some areas of the state have received some precipitation while others have received little if any.”

The Commonwealth’s Burning Law Fall Wildfire Hazard Season restrictions are in effect through December 15 whether or not a county has a burn ban or, if it does, if it lifts it.

Officials with the Kentucky Division of Forestry (KDF) remind everyone to be careful with outdoor fire any time of the year, but especially during the wildfire seasons when the risk of a fire escaping is greatest.  If a fire does escape, immediately contact the nearest Division of Forestry field office or local fire department.

In September, KDF responded to more than 104 wildfire fires, when normally there are none this time of year.  Some of the recent fires have been controlled by local fire departments and are not reflected in the division’s September statistic.

People are asked to call their local fire department or their County Judge-Executive’s office if they have questions regarding local burn bans.  Residents should call the Division of Air Quality at 1-888-BURN-LAW to learn about other specific regulations before burning anything.

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Harmful Algal Bloom Recreational Public Health Advisory Issued

Blooms found at various locations on the Ohio River

The Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) and the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) have issued a harmful algal bloom (HAB) recreational public health advisory for the Ohio River from the McAlpine Dam near Louisville to the Greenup Dam near Greenup, KY. An advisory is also being issued for Briggs Lake near Russellville.

A HAB recreational public health advisory means algal toxins have been found at various locations along the river and within the lake. Swimming, wading, and water activities that create spray are not recommended in areas impacted by HABs. Water ingested during recreational activities in this area may increase the risk of gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Skin, eye, and throat irritation and/or breathing difficulties, skin rashes, as well as numbness or tingling of limbs may also occur after contact.

Observations and sample results from September 25, 2019 indicated the presence of a toxin-producing bloom on the Ohio River near downtown Cincinnati. Toxin results from this area were well above the advisory threshold. Toxin-producing blooms that exceeded the advisory threshold were also identified on the Ohio River near Dover, KY (Mason Co.), and near Towhead Island in Louisville, KY, and additionally at Briggs Lake in Logan Co. Currently, HABs are present in patchy areas along the extent of the Ohio River under this advisory. However, bloom conditions can change rapidly. See the recommended guidelines below to minimize exposure to HABs.

This is a recreational advisory only. There have been no detected microcystin toxins reported in the finished, treated water from public water systems which draw from the river. Precautions are being taken to monitor river water at public water supply intakes. DOW will continue to sample and monitor the public water systems’ raw water and finished, treated water while harmful algal bloom conditions continue.

HABMap

Blue-green algae occur naturally in the environment and are a vital part of the ecosystem. Harmful algal blooms arise when there are excess nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), sunny conditions, warm temperatures, and low-flow or low-water conditions. The more typical green algae, which do not produce toxins, come in many forms and may appear as underwater moss or stringy mats. Harmful algal blooms, on the other hand, appear as slicks of opaque, bright-green paint, but closer inspection often reveals the grainy, sawdust-like appearance of individual colonies. The color of the algae may also appear red or brown.

The following guidelines are recommended to avoid exposure to HABs:

  • Individuals should avoid direct contact, including swimming, wading, paddling, diving, and water skiing, with affected water that has a visible bloom, unusual color, or algal scum.
  • People who are prone to respiratory allergies or asthma should avoid areas with HABs. Children may be particularly at risk.
  • If contact has been made with water containing blue-green algae, wash off with fresh water. In some cases, skin irritation will appear after prolonged exposure. If symptoms persist, consult your health care provider.
  • If fishing in affected waters, fish fillets (not organs) may be consumed after the fillets have been rinsed in clean, potable water.
  • Prevent pets and livestock from coming into contact with water where HABs are apparent.

If you are concerned that you have symptoms that are a result of exposure to HABs, please see your doctor and call your local health department.

For additional information about harmful algal blooms in Kentucky, please visit the Division of Water’s HAB webpage here.

To see all current HAB advisories in Kentucky, please access the Division of Water’s HAB Viewer at http://watermaps.ky.gov/HABs.

Contact: Robin Hartman at 502-782-8821 or John Mura at 502-782-7023.

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Division of Water issues caution regarding recreating in Ohio River at Cincinnati area due to Harmful Algal Blooms

The Kentucky Division of Water is issuing a caution regarding recreating in the Ohio River near Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky based on visual observations of harmful algae in the area, cyanobacteria cell counts and cyanotoxin screening data.

Based on the data available at this time, cyanotoxins are present in the Ohio River near
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky. Currently, screening-level data indicate cyanotoxin concentrations that are generally below the Kentucky Division of Water’s advisory threshold. However, one data point exceeded that threshold.

Harmful algal blooms and their associated cyanotoxin concentrations can vary throughout a waterbody and have the potential to change rapidly. Ingestion of water containing cyanotoxins may increase the risk of gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Skin, eye, and throat irritation and/or breathing difficulties, skin rashes, as well as numbness or tingling of limbs may
also occur after contact.

The Division of Water recommends that individuals should avoid direct contact, including swimming,
wading, paddling, diving, and water skiing, with water that has a visible bloom, unusual color, or where blue-green algae are abundant. People who are prone to respiratory allergies or asthma should avoid areas with HABs. Children may be particularly sensitive. If contact has been made with water containing blue-green algae, wash off with fresh water. In some cases, skin irritation or rashes may appear after
prolonged exposure. If symptoms persist, consult your health care provider.

The Division of Water recommends that people prevent pets and livestock from coming into contact with water where HABs are apparent. Fish fillets (not organs) may be consumed after the fillets have been rinsed in clean, potable water.

The Division of Water and ORSANCO will continue to observe conditions in the river and collect samples for analysis.

For additional information about Harmful Algal Blooms in Kentucky, please visit the Division of Water’s HAB webpage here.

To see all current HAB advisories in Kentucky, please access the Division of Water’s HAB Viewer at http://watermaps.ky.gov/

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Recognizes Award Winners at Annual Conference

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 20, 2019) – The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet today recognized a number of individuals and organizations for making positive contributions to Kentucky’s environment.

Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely presented the environmental awards during a luncheon ceremony at the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Energy and the Environment in Lexington. Conference sessions during the all-day event included a look ahead at the 2020 legislative session, an overview of federal EPA regulations and standards, efforts to sustain Kentucky’s forests, and Public Service Commission initiatives.

“The Cabinet is very pleased to recognize all these award winners for the outstanding contributions they have made to the Commonwealth,” Secretary Snavely said. “We applaud their dedication to safety and energy savings and their environmental leadership.”

Award winners included:

Mary Margaret Lowe and Eugene Lacefield, of Henry County, who were honored with the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund Stewardship Award that recognizes individuals that best exemplify responsible natural areas management. The award was given by the Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves.

The couple has managed their 300-acre Henry County property for more than 40 years as a natural area, and in 2019 donated their land to the Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves to establish the Drennon Creek State Nature Preserve. This property protects habitat for the federally endangered Braun’s Rockcress, and will help the recovery efforts needed to remove this plant from the endangered species list.

Lee Andrews, of Frankfort, KY., who was honored with the Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves’ Biodiversity Award that recognizes a company or individual that has done outstanding work in the conservation of Kentucky’s rare species.

As U.S. Fish and Wildlife field supervisor for Kentucky and Tennessee, Mr. Andrews has been at the forefront of innovative habitat conservation in Kentucky for more than a decade. Under his leadership, partnerships were formed to develop stream and wetland mitigation sites, the Green River Lock and Dam 6 was removed to eliminate a public safety hazard, and the Imperiled Bat Conservation Fund was created.

Dr. Oliver “Herb” Lloyd, of Cincinnati, Ohio, who was honored with The Outstanding Forest Steward Award, given by the Kentucky Division of Forestry, for outstanding stewardship accomplishments involving cooperative planning and management of natural resources that prevent loss of habitat and promote sustainability.

Dr. Lloyd has been a strong advocate for good stewardship of natural resources and sound forest management for more than five decades, including for 38 years on his Fleming County farm. He has used information from resource professionals and over the years shared what worked or did not work with numerous landowners, students, nature lovers, and Christmas tree customers.

KC Coals, Inc., of Martin County, which was honored with the Excellence in Reclamation Award, given by the Kentucky Division of Reclamation and Enforcement, for a reclamation project that demonstrates that mining can be completed and the area then returned to a condition that is equal to or better than what existed before.

The company was able to capitalize on a natural resource to offset the costs associated with a development in Paintsville. This project, which has provided several well-paying mining and support jobs for the local community, will provide a solid foundation for additional job creation.

Western KY Minerals, Inc. (Joe’s Run Mine), of Daviess County, which was honored with the Excellence in Mine Safety Award, given by the Kentucky Division of Mine Safety, for a mine that exhibited the best safety practices during the year.

Owner Tony Lanham, a second-generation coal miner, along with his sons, Brandon and Jordan, supervise and manage the small coal mining operation. Their group of 22 employees worked more than 50,000 hours, pulling out 204,000 tons of coal, without a single accident or incident.

Smith Brothers Excavating, of Manchester, which was honored with the Excellence in Abandoned Mine Lands Reclamation Award, given by the Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands, for its reclamation project that demonstrated that mining can be completed and the area returned to a condition that is equal to or better than what existed before.

The company reclaimed the McKinney property in Floyd County, where a slide encroached upon and partially blocked Branham’s Creek, creating potential upstream flooding. The company constructed a steel panel wall to stop the landslide and created a bench behind the wall and installed drainage controls.

General Motors’ Bowling Green Assembly Plant, which was honored with the KY EXCEL Champion Award, given by the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection, for being an Kentucky EXCEL member that demonstrated outstanding stewardship of Kentucky’s environment.

The plant has excelled in community involvement, pollution prevention, waste minimization, and air quality improvement. Its state-of-the-art paint shop has decreased paint usage, and reduced sludge waste and VOC emissions. A total of 7,000 light fixtures have been updated with low energy LED lights, and the plant has committed to renewable energy through its onsite solar array that generated more than 700 megawatts of electricity in 2018.

Eden Shale Farm, of Owenton, which was honored with the Environmental Pacesetter Award, given by the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, for its exemplary and innovative efforts to protect the environment and set an example of environmental stewardship for the Commonwealth.

Eden Shale Farm has educated Kentucky farmers using a hands-on approach. Through the farm’s website, blog, demonstrational videos, onsite farm tours and virtual tour, it has provided numerous resources for farmers to implement environmentally friendly practices, and receive the corresponding savings and improved herd health, on their own farms.

Leggett & Platt, Inc., Winchester Spring, which was honored with the Resource Caretaker Award, given by the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, for its conservation of Kentucky’s natural resources.

Through its parts rebuild and pallet recycling programs, Leggett & Platt reduced the amount of waste sent to landfills by 740,000 pounds over the past year. Trash pickups have been reduced to one per quarter and the branch is exploring the possibility of becoming a Zero-Waste-to-Landfill operation. This year, the firm partnered with two elementary schools to spread the message of environmental awareness.

The Letcher County Conservation District, which was honored with the Community Luminary Award, given by the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, for demonstrating an outstanding record of educating, engaging and inspiring communities and employee partners through environmental outreach.

Through a variety of projects, the district has revitalized community lakes, promoted local outdoor education, and developed community partnerships. This group has been fully engaged in accomplishing much for their community and the environment for many years.

Karen Reagor, of Crestview Hills, and the Owsley County School District, which were both honored with the Kentucky Excellence in Energy Leadership Award, given by the Kentucky Office of Energy to individuals or entities having a tremendous impact on the Commonwealth by inspiring others to save energy and/or utilize alternative energy resources.

Ms. Reagor, director of the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project, has inspired thousands of Kentucky teachers and generations of students to achieve a deeper understanding of all forms of energy and its relationship to our natural and built environments. In the past school year alone, 397 teachers attended a NEED teacher workshop. Those teachers, in turn, shared their knowledge with nearly 58,000 students.

In 2017, the Owsley County School District made energy efficiency its first priority after an aging infrastructure and failing HVAC equipment compromised school operations. School Superintendent Tim Bobrowski and other key decision makers embarked on a comprehensive energy project that has made the district energy efficient while improving occupant comfort and safety.

Editors: Photos of the award winners can be found HERE.

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