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Visitors got a sneak peek of the NASA Hubble Traveling Exhibit at the East Kentucky Science Center and Varia Planetarium during a VIP Reception for the NASA Hubble Traveling Exhibit on Friday, January 20.Visitors got a sneak peek of the NASA Hubble Traveling Exhibit at the East Kentucky Science Center and Varia Planetarium during a VIP Reception for the NASA Hubble Traveling Exhibit on Friday, January 20.

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. – Big Sandy Community and Technical College’s East Kentucky Science Center and Varia Planetarium (EKSC) will house a special Hubble mission exhibit from NASA through August.

“We are very fortunate to bring such an innovative exhibit to the people of eastern Kentucky,” said Steve Russo, director of the EKSC. “This exhibit takes visitors through the life and history of the Hubble mission.”

The EKSC held a VIP Reception for community members to get a sneak peek of the NASA Hubble Traveling exhibit on Friday, January 20.

Others who spoke at the reception were: Les Stapleton, mayor of Prestonsburg; John Rosenberg, a founding member of the EKSC, and Maurice Henderson, NASA lead outreach coordinator.

“As the leading STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) facility in the region, it is important that we bring world-class exhibits, such as the NASA Hubble Traveling exhibit, to the people of eastern Kentucky,” said Dr. Alan Scheibmeir, interim president of Big Sandy Community and Technical College. “This exhibit will empower visitors through the power of science and engineering to shoot for the stars.”

The 2,200-square-foot exhibit immerses visitors in the magnificence and mystery of the Hubble Space Telescope and introduces the James Webb Space Telescope. Featuring a scale model of the Hubble Space Telescope and several satellite units, visitors will get a hands-on experience of the same technology that allows Hubble to gaze at distant galaxies and contribute to the exploration of planets, stars, galaxies and the universe.

Visitors will also learn of the various instruments aboard the telescope and the role each of them plays in providing images and discoveries. The exhibit will also feature data taken by Hubble of planets, galaxies, regions around the black hole and many other fascinating cosmic entities that have contributed to science for decades.

The EKSC is a state-of-the-art facility located on the Prestonsburg campus of Big Sandy Community and Technical College. The center provides visitors an innovative and interactive platform to explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects and careers.

The planetarium features a 40-foot dome and the Spitz Sci-Dome projection system, one of only two dozen in the world. Additionally, the planetarium has the state’s only GOTO Star Projector, which brings space exploration to life for visitors.

You can visit the EKSC Tuesday through Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and noon to 4 p.m. each Saturday. The center offers school and group tours and a variety of special classroom programs for schools and students.

Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for children and children four and under are free. Admission includes the exhibit and planetarium shows. For more information, call (606) 889-8260.

 

Ky. EPA HEADQUARTERS NEWS RELEASEKy. EPA HEADQUARTERS NEWS RELEASE

Slawson Exploration Company, Inc., to Make System Upgrades and Undertake Projects to Reduce Air Pollution in North Dakota

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Justice today announced a settlement with Slawson Exploration Company, Inc., resolving alleged Clean Air Act violations stemming from the company's oil and gas production activities in North Dakota, including on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. The settlement resolves claims that Slawson failed to adequately design, operate, and maintain vapor control systems on its storage tanks at its approximately 170 oil and natural gas well pads in North Dakota, resulting in emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are a key component in the formation of smog or ground-level ozone, a pollutant that irritates the lungs, exacerbates diseases such as asthma, and can increase susceptibility to respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia and bronchitis.

As part of this settlement, Slawson’s total expenditures on system upgrades, monitoring and inspections are estimated to be $4.1 million. These improvements will significantly reduce VOC emissions and include the use of advanced technology such as infrared cameras and electronic pressure monitors to better detect and respond to air emissions. In addition, Slawson will spend at least an estimated $2 million to fund environmental mitigation projects and pay a $2.1 million civil penalty.

“This settlement puts Next Generation Compliance technologies to work to reduce air pollution across communities in North Dakota, including on tribal lands,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance at EPA. “EPA is committed to making sure that domestic energy development grows in a responsible way that protects public health and complies with the law.”

“Safe, responsible, and lawful development of domestic energy resources and technology is of great importance to a sustainable future for all Americans,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This Clean Air Act agreement will bring better air quality and lasting health benefits to communities in North Dakota, including the people of the Three Affiliated Tribes.”

EPA estimates Slawson’s system upgrades, many of which are already in place, will reduce the emission of at least 11,700 tons of VOCs, 400 tons of hazardous air pollutants, primarily benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes, and 2,600 tons of methane annually. Improved operation and maintenance will result in additional emissions reductions, as will the replacement of all pit flares used to control emissions from storage tanks.

Many of Slawson’s North Dakota wells are located on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation; governed by the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation. Nearly all of the electronic pressure monitors will be installed at operations on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation; Slawson will replace all pit flares on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation with control devices capable of achieving greater efficiency. These measures, in addition to the other injunctive relief and mitigation projects Slawson will carry out on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, will result in a substantial reduction in harmful emissions.

Slawson’s oil and natural gas production operations in North Dakota use storage tanks to store produced oil and water prior to transport. Multiple storage tanks are typically present at a well pad and are frequently controlled by the same vapor control system. Today’s settlement resolves alleged violations at all of Slawson’s well pads in North Dakota with wells in production.

This settlement is part of EPA's national enforcement initiative to reduce public health and environmental impacts from energy extraction activities. For more information about EPA's enforcement initiative: http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/national-enforcement-initiative-ensuring-energy-extraction-activities-comply

The proposed consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. To submit a public comment: www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees

For more information on this settlement: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/slawson-exploration-company-inc-clean-air-act-settlement

 

 Moving Eastern Kentucky Forward with Broadband Service AreaMoving Eastern Kentucky Forward with Broadband Service Area

        SOMERSET, Ky. – Leaders and business owners located within 26 coal-impacted counties in Eastern Kentucky are invited to submit their projects designed to Move Eastern Kentucky Forward with Broadband. The Request for Proposal is now available online at SKED’s website: www.southeastkentucky.com.

            Through Moving Eastern Kentucky Forward with Broadband, Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED) is identifying short and long-term economic development projects in the 26 Kentucky counties that may be eligible for approximately $500,000 to $2,000,000 in funding from various sources. The projects will leverage the Kentucky Wired I-Way and other broadband networks in the eligible counties. SKED will prioritize the selected project finalists and seek resources, funding, and partnerships to see that the projects are realized and produce new jobs and investment for the region.

            Deadline for proposal submission is: 4:30 p.m. EDT, December 12, 2016. They may be submitted by email to: Brett Traver, SKED executive director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by mail to: Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation, 2292 S. Highway 27, Somerset, KY 42501.

            Any questions regarding the project or process should be submitted before 4:30 p.m. EDT, December 5, 2016. Answers to those will be posted online on December 7, 2016 at www.southeastkentucky.com.

            SKED received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) in September to conduct a feasibility study to identify short and long-term economic development projects leveraging broadband infrastructure. Thomas P. Miller & Associates (TPMA) was hired to assist in deploying the project’s goals and developing  project assessments. MSE of Kentucky is also a partner, with its expertise in engineering.

            The 30-year-old nonprofit organization is providing $25,000 in matching funds for the project to identify economic development projects that can capitalize on the high-capacity telecommunications infrastructure to create jobs in 26 coal counties in the region that have been negatively impacted by the coal industry. These counties include: Bell, Boyd, Breathitt, Clay, Elliott, Floyd, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Menifee, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Rockcastle, Whitley, and Wolfe counties.  

            The process will consist of data analysis on available workforce, business sites and buildings; broadband utilization plan; and other planned activities related to the KentuckyWired project and other broadband providers in the region. Projects will be ranked based on number of created jobs, cost, timeline and local support and work in conjunction with other SOAR initiatives.

            SKED Executive Director Brett Traver says the initiative is designed to guide Eastern Kentucky business owners and leaders direction in the use of broadband infrastructure to create jobs in the region.

            “This is the first step in identifying the communities with the leadership to develop, support and implement economic development projects that will have the greatest impact on the region by utilizing the broadband technology,” Traver said.

            For information about SKED, Moving Eastern Kentucky Forward with Broadband, its direct loan programs, Entrepreneurial SMARTS classes, visit: www.southeastkentucky.com.

 

 

FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Public Service Commission has allowed East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Inc. to offer its customers the opportunity to use solar power without putting solar panels on their roofs, according to a PSC news release.

In an order issued Tuesday, the PSC approved an EKPC proposal that will allow customers to purchase licenses for – in effect, to lease - one or more of the 32,300 panels in a large-scale solar electric generating facility the utility will build in Clark County. The total capacity of the project is 8.5 megawatts.

Customers will pay a one-time fee of $460 per panel for a 25-year lease. The electricity generated can be used to offset up to all of a customer’s electric usage, and customers will also receive solar renewable energy credits that can be sold or retired.

In approving the proposal, the PSC found that the solar facility fills an unmet demand for renewable energy by EKPC customers. Even if no customers participate, the potential impact on EKPC’s future rates would be very small, the PSC noted.

Community solar projects are intended to give customers an alternative to rooftop solar panels. In its application, EKPC stated that its proposed facility will cost – per-kilowatt of capacity - about half the median cost of rooftop solar, and will be somewhat less expensive to operate.

The EKPC facility is the second community solar project approved by the PSC. Earlier this month, the PSC authorized Kentucky Utilities Co. and Louisville Gas & Electric Co. to establish a 4-megawatt community solar facility in Shelby County.

The joint KU-LG&E facility is based on a different financial model than that of EKPC. Unlike the EKPC facility, KU and LG&E will not build the facility all at once, but will add panels in half-megawatt increments as customers purchase subscriptions.

EKPC is owned by and generates and transmits power for 16 electric distribution cooperatives. Together, those cooperatives serve about 520,000 retail customers in 87 counties in eastern and central Kentucky.

In its application, EKPC cited a 2013 study that indicated that between 7,870 and 15,741 of those retail customers were likely to participate in a community solar project.

EKPC has contracted with Lendlease (S) Public Partnerships, LLC to plan and construct the solar project. The $17.7 million facility will be built next year adjacent to the EKPC offices in Winchester. It is expected to begin producing power in November 2017.

Each of the member distribution cooperatives will be able to reserve a portion of the solar facility’s capacity. Customers who wish to participate will then lease panels through their distribution cooperative.

In its order, the PSC directed EKPC to file annual reports on participation in the project.

The PSC’s order and the case file are available on the PSC website, psc.ky.gov. The case number is 2016-00269.

 

Militia groups "prepared" in case Trump loses

"Some armed militia groups are preparing for the possibility of a stolen election on Nov. 8 and civil unrest in the days following a victory by Democrat Three Percent Security trains in Jackson, Ga.  (Reuters photo by Justin Mitchell)Three Percent Security trains in Jackson, Ga. (Reuters photo by Justin Mitchell)Hillary Clinton," Justin Mitchell and Andy Sullivan of the Reuters wire service report.

Three Percent Security Force, a militia group training in Jackson, Ga., "say they won't fire the first shot, but they're not planning to leave their guns at home, either."

Chris Hill, a paralegal who goes by the code name "Bloodagent," says he admires Donald Trump's "promise to deport illegal immigrants, stop Muslims from entering the country and build a wall along the Mexico border," Mitchell and Sullivan write. "Trump has repeatedly warned that the election may be 'rigged,' and has said he may not respect the results if he does not win.

At least one paramilitary group, the Oath Keepers, has called on members to monitor voting sites for signs of fraud."

Reuters reports that the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, estimates there were 276 active militias last year, up from 42 in 2008.

Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 11/03/2016