- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Kentucky coal group targets California billionaire

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes‘ meeting with California billionaire Tom Steyer has prompted the Kentucky Coal Association to warn her not to accept donations from him or his climate-protection group.

Grimes and other candidates attended a meeting Tuesday in Chicago with Steyer and other major Democratic donors, according to her campaign. In a prepared statement, Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett said anyone accepting donations form Steyer or his NextGen Climate Action group would “identify you as being against the production and use of Kentucky coal.”

“Her comments thus far have been pro coal. She has made it clear she wants to be a pro coal candidate,” Bissett said in an interview. “This is more so just trying to say, ‘You really can’t have it both ways here.’”

State and federal campaign records show Steyer and his group have not contributed money to any Kentucky political candidates for the 2014 election cycle.

“Allison’s pro-coal credentials are unquestioned by Kentuckians,” Kentucky Democratic Party chairman Dan Logsdon said. “Alison is the only candidate with the jobs plan to help save and create jobs in coal country.”

Grimes has said many times that she supports the Kentucky coal industry. In September, she criticized an EPA ruling on new emissions standards, which she said would “practically prohibit construction of new coal-fired plants, which will threaten Kentucky jobs and raise energy prices.”

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McConnell challenger: Criticisms are ‘just noise’

STAMPING GROUND, Ky. (AP) - Tom Ramsey stopped by the local supermarket here to pick up two yard signs from the back of Republican Senate hopeful Matt Bevin’s truck.

But the 33-year-old said his vote is more against veteran incumbent Mitch McConnell than it is for Bevin.

“I don’t know that much about (Bevin), and some of the research is kind of hard to get to,” he said. “Truly, I’m just tired of Mitch McConnell.”

That was the sentiment for most of the 10 people who spent nearly two hours with Bevin Tuesday morning at a local breakfast spot in eastern Kentucky, where the race for the U.S. Senate is the marquee election of the 2014 midterm elections.

“I’m more against someone than I am for someone at this point,” said Dan Thornsberry, 66, who says he is not a McConnell fan but is mostly concerned with defeating Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Most polls and pundits expect a razor-thin race between McConnell and Grimes, the secretary of state. But first, McConnell and Bevin will compete in the May 20 Republican primary. Bevin is a Louisville businessman who says he has driven 45,000 miles across Kentucky telling people why he can beat McConnell and Grimes.

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Comer: First hemp crop in decades set for planting

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky’s first industrial hemp crop in decades will start going into the ground next month now that the pipeline for shipping seeds into the state is opening up to allow the experimental plantings, state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said Tuesday.

Comer said he expects the first batches of hemp seeds to arrive in coming days at the state Agriculture Department at Frankfort.

“We’re rapidly approaching a crucial time for the seeds to be put in the ground,” he said by phone.

So far, eight pilot projects are planned statewide as part of a small-scale reintroduction to gauge the versatile crop’s potential in the marketplace and as a money maker for farmers. The first planting is scheduled for May 16 in Rockcastle County, said Comer’s chief of staff, Holly Harris VonLuehrte.

“Hopefully we can get enough seeds to have credible research data gathered by this fall,” Comer said. “And next year, hopefully we’ll have enough seeds to have several processors in the state and several farmers under contract growing it.”

Hemp production was banned decades ago when the federal government classified the crop as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are the same species, Cannabis sativa. Hemp has a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

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Crews try to extinguish fire in railroad tunnel

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Crews are trying to extinguish a fire in a 700-foot-long railroad tunnel in eastern Kentucky.

Pike County Emergency management Director Doug Tackett told WYMT-TV (http://bit.ly/1nC7h6s) that firefighters stopped battling the flames Monday after concerns about toxic runoff were raised.

“Timbers within that tunnel were treated with creosote years ago which emits some toxic fumes when burning and if treated with a lot of water it can create some run off and there can be toxic run off from that,” Tackett said.

The station reports that CSX Corporation has a contractor on the scene that is trying to smother the blaze, which has been pouring out heavy smoke and fumes.

“It is still burning on both ends there, heavy smoke coming out and as the humidity rises it keeps the smoke pushed down around the homes and schools,” Tackett said on Monday.

Some schools canceled classes due to the fire.

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