The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

USEC plans, sales tax may be connected
Two lawmakers from Paducah are looking for a way to revive the bill. They say refusal may affect the company's future plans.

By Bill Bartleman bbartleman@paducahsun.com--270.575.8650

FRANKFORT, Ky.--If the General Assembly fails to approve a sales tax exemption for enriched uranium manufactured at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, it could have a negative effect on decisions that USEC Inc. makes about future development in Kentucky, according to Rep. Frank Rasche, D-Paducah.

The key decision will concern where to build a new plant that will use gas centrifuge, the next generation of enrichment technology, Rasche said. The plant will cost more than $1 billion and create hundreds of new jobs.

"I think USEC officials perceive that failing to pass the bill is an indication that they are not wanted in Kentucky," Rasche said. "But that isn't so."

Rasche and Sen. Bob Leeper, R-Paducah, said that because of that concern, efforts are being made to revive the bill that was effectively killed in the House last week because of opposition from the Paper Allied-Industrial Chemical & Energy Workers Union. PACE represents workers in Paducah and at USEC's closed plant in Portsmouth, Ohio.

Rasche said PACE workers in Ohio are upset because of USEC's announcement last month that it was moving the final shipping operation from Portsmouth to Paducah by this summer. It will mean a loss of 440 jobs at the Ohio plant.

PACE leaders in Paducah joined in that opposition, but no one from the local union has been available for comment.

Leeper said he'll participate in a conference call today with USEC and members of PACE who met Monday at USEC's headquarters in Bethesda, Md., to discuss the issue.

"It is my understanding that some progress was made to resolve the issues," Leeper said. "I don't know if everything was resolved. I assume we will find that out during the conference call."

Leeper said if the union removes its opposition, he has a plan ready to see that the tax exemption is approved. He would not discuss his strategy.

USEC spokeswoman Elizabeth Stuckle would not confirm that a meeting was held between USEC and the union but did say USEC is concerned about the failure so far of the legislature to pass the bill.

"The fact of the matter is, our company is disappointed ... and hoped Kentucky would support us in our effort regarding the tax exemption issue," Stuckle said. "We certainly would like Kentucky's support both on this issue and any other endeavors that we pursue."

One of them is the location for the gas centrifuge plant. "At some point, we will go out and will look to see what individual states have to offer to attract centrifuge," she said. "We are still considering our position."