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Kentucky Energy and Environment Head Resigning

The Secretary of Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet has officially submitted his resignation to Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. Secretary Len Peters’ last day in his position will be Dec. 7, which is also Beshear’s last day in office.

Peters’ resignation isn’t a surprise; as the head of a cabinet, his position is one that is typically appointed by the governor.

Although Governor-elect Matt Bevin, a Republican, hasn’t yet announced who he will choose to lead the Energy and Environment Cabinet, Peters included a farewell letter in the October issue of the cabinet’s magazine (which was published before the election) indicating he was planning on resigning no matter who took office.

Peters has led the cabinet since 2008. He’s a chemical engineer by training, and before working in state government he led the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. He’s also held academic and administrative positions at the University of Kentucky and Virginia Tech.

Peters formally announced his resignation to staff in an email Thursday, where he outlined the cabinet’s successes, including energy efficiency, new oil and gas regulations, and the progress made in closing the Maxey Flats nuclear disposal site. Cabinet spokesman Dick Brown confirmed the news, and added that the move wasn't unexpected.

"Sec. Peters had not intended to stay beyond the Beshear administration," Brown said in an email. "He certainly has great respect for the Governor who has been very supportive of the work that Sec. Peters and his staff have done during his tenure."

Here’s the full email Peters sent staff Thursday:

Dear EEC Employees,

I am writing to let you know that I have officially given my resignation notice to Governor Beshear, with my final day being December 7, 2015. This notice is not surprising to most of you, especially since I had a farewell message in the most recent issue of our cabinet’s magazine, Land, Air, and Water.  

As a cabinet, we have had a number of successes (we don’t always see these successes printed in the newspapers). These accomplishments run the full gamut of our programs within EEC, and I believe they have established a foundation that will continue to provide benefits for Kentuckians in the years ahead.  For example, Kentucky has become a nationally recognized leader in improvements in energy efficiency. Today, Kentucky ranks second nationally in the number of Energy Star qualified schools per capita. Strong partnerships and an enthusiastic embrace of efficiency by the Kentucky School Boards Association and others have certainly made a big difference.  

The list of Outstanding Resource Waters (OSRWs), which include the highest quality waterbodies in Kentucky and those waterbodies that support threatened and endangered species, has grown from 157 OSRWs in 2008 to 423 designated OSRWs in 2015. The list of “Exceptional” waters, including Reference Reach Waters has also grown, from a list of 118 waterbodies listed as having “Exceptional” water quality and aquatic habitats, to 254 during this same period.

Working with a multi-stakeholder group that included industry, the environmental community, and landowners, we were able to make progress on updating Kentucky’s oil and gas statutes and regulations to make them align more appropriately with today’s production of these resources.   Another big success was our ability to begin the final phase of the closure of the Maxey Flats nuclear disposal facility. We are very thankful to the Kentucky General Assembly for approving the $35.2 million requested by Governor Beshear in 2012 to make final closure a reality.  The clean up on this site has been on-going for more than 30 years, and I want to thank the staff within the Department for Environmental Protection for their perseverance on this issue.

I want to thank each and every one of you for helping to make the past eight years so memorable and so meaningful. You have had to perform your jobs amid shrinking budgets. Many of you have had to move office locations (and are now preparing to do so again within the next year), and some of you had your office locations destroyed by natural disaster (Morgan County tree nursery). The complexity and volume of our regulatory programs has grown over time, and your professional expertise has been and will continue to be crucial.    

Although I will not be in this position when it happens, I am very excited about the new building that will allow EEC’s Frankfort offices to be consolidated (I know, another move!). Please stay positive about this move, however, because I believe that when everyone is in place in the new building all the frustrations and logistical challenges of moving offices will be worth it for you. The ability of people within the cabinet to collaborate with one another across disciplines should make your jobs more enriching and, perhaps more exciting.  

As I wrote in the Land, Air and Water message, I feel truly honored to have worked with so many dedicated, intelligent, creative people during the past eight years. Thank you for helping to move the Commonwealth forward in the important areas of environmental protection, natural resources, and energy policy. Take care.


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