The U.S. Coast Guard wants to allow barges filled with fracking wastewater to run the nation's rivers on their way toward disposal. Many environmentalists are concerned, but industry groups say barge transport has its advantages. Critics of the plan say that if there was an accident, it could threaten the drinking water supply of millions of people.
A new study of children’s furniture has found that most contain toxic flame retardant chemicals. These chemicals have been linked to serious health problems. The study was conducted by the non-profit Center for Environmental Health and researchers at Duke University. They analyzed 42 children’s couches and chairs from big box retailers, and found that 90 percent of them contained one or more of the flame retardant chemicals.
The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions—like carbon dioxide –from existing power plants next June. But Kentucky regulators are preemptively trying to influence the agency’s decision-making. Read more...
Officials with the Kentucky Division of Water say harmful algal blooms are found at four central Kentucky lakes. The elevated bacteria levels were detected in Madison County’s Lake Reba, Beaver Lake in Anderson County, Shelby County’s Guist Creek Lake, and Willisburg Lake in Washington County. Harmful algal blooms produce toxins which may be hazardous to animals and humans.
Since the end of World War II, Kentucky’s deer herd population has increased 900 percent. Now, they’re a common and costly hazard along the Commonwealth’s highways. Now is the time of year with the biggest risk of collisions.
Climate change is prompting calls from an environmental advocate for better preparation on the local level. Rick Clewett, who spent almost 40 years teaching English at Eastern Kentucky University, now works with the Sierra Club and the Kentucky Conservation Committee. Clewett says climate change will be especially hard on homeless and low-income Kentuckians.
Credit US Forest Service / Flickr, Creative Commons
Emerald Ash Borer in firewood.
An ongoing insect infestation is causing both safety and aesthetic concerns at a well known Kentucky state park. The emerald ash borer, which is native to Asia but alien to North America, was first seen in Kentucky just four years ago. Since, then it’s done a lot of damage to trees in 24 counties. State officials are especially worried about its impact on General Butler State Park near Carrollton. Forest Health Specialist Jody Thompson says there’s no quick and easy cure-all.
Credit PEO, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives
Officials say construction on a long-awaited weapons disposal facility at the Blue Grass Army Depot in central Kentucky is about 70 percent complete and it is on track to start operations in 2020. Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board Co-Chair Craig Williams says it took several years for the project to recover from funding cuts in 2004. But, Williams adds construction is tracking on schedule now that allocations have been more consistent.
This truck parked outside of the informational meeting in Frankfort last week.
Over the past month, opposition to a proposed natural gas liquids pipeline that would run through Central Kentucky has been growing. Four counties have passed resolutions against the Bluegrass Pipeline, and more than 5,000 people signed a petition asking Governor Steve Beshear to put pipeline legislation on the agenda for this month’s special session (though the governor has said he won’t). And the religious communities of Kentucky’s Holy Land have also joined the fight. Read more...
With the right vegetative buffer between streams and worksite, Jacalyn Carfagno reports nature can keep the Kentucky River clean.
Most Kentuckians accept clean, safe water as a fact of life, as reliable as the sun rising each morning. But water is always on the move, flowing and seeping through many ecosystems. And, each system impacts what finally comes out of the tap.
Land owners and environmentalists are gathering in Frankfort to protest a proposed pipeline that would carry flammable liquids through several counties in northern Kentucky. A partnership of two energy companies announced a plan earlier this year to build the underground pipeline. The Bluegrass Pipeline would carry natural gas liquids from sources in the northeast to a connection in Breckinridge County.
WEKU's Jacalyn Carfagno reports on how building designs can help cleanse the Kentucky River.
Eastern Kentucky University applied science to the planning and construction of its new, state-of-the-art science building. One of the challenges in constructing it was creating a building on a relatively narrow, steep lot, that wouldn’t add to flooding problems at EKU and in Richmond.
Jacalyn Carfagno reports on restoration efforts along a tributary to the Kentucky River.
Visit almost any city in the Kentucky River watershed after a rain and you’ll find water gushing through culverts, pouring out of storm sewers. The dark froth carries all the debris of modern life swept from lawns, parking lots and streets: fast food wrappers, plastic toys, tires. Less visible but equally present are pesticides and oil, fertilizers and human and animal waste. And it all winds up in the Kentucky River, which provides drinking water for more than 700,000 Kentuckians.
Fifty members of Kentucky's House of Representatives have sent a letter to President Obama to protest what they're calling an "unfair attack on coal." The letter was sent today from House Speaker Greg Stumbo's office, and signed by 49 of his colleagues, including Jefferson County representatives Larry Clark and Tom Burch. It asks Obama to take a step back from the promises he made in his big climate change address in June (where he talked a lot about reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants), and instead think about the effect a decline in coal usage will have on states like Kentucky. Read more...
Louisville attorney Andrew Beshear, son of Governor Steve Beshear.
Governor Steve Beshear's son is representing the company that has proposed building a natural gas liquids pipeline across Kentucky. The Bluegrass Pipeline is a joint venture between two companies--Boardwalk Pipeline Partners and Williams--and if it's built, it'll transport the byproducts of natural gas drilling from the northeast to the Gulf of Mexico. Andrew Beshear is an attorney at law firm Stites & Harbison's Louisville office. As the State Journal in Frankfort reported earlier today, Boardwalk Pipeline Partners is a longtime client of the firm, and Andrew Beshear is working on the company's account. Read more...
Four Kentucky lakes are now affected by harmful algal blooms. The four lakes—Taylorsville, Barren, Rough River and Nolin—make up half of the lakes the Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages in Kentucky. High levels of blue-green algae were first found in Taylorsville Lake last month. This algae is a type of cyanobacteria that produces toxins. It can cause nose and skin irritation, as well as other illnesses in humans and animals. This summer marks the first time the Army Corps of Engineers has tested all the lakes for the algae; it tested Taylorsville Lake last summer. Because of the lack of data, Corps biologist Jade Young said it’s hard to say whether this is a new problem. Read more...
Governor Beshear says it’s unlikely he’ll ask state lawmakers to deal with regulations on pipelines when they assemble in Frankfort next month for a special session. The governor says he called the special assembly to draw new maps for House and Senate districts and doesn’t plan on adding anything else to the call. Read more...
It appears gains are being made in reducing the number of old tires dumped along Kentucky roadways. Kentucky counties can apply for three thousand dollars in waste tire recycling and removal grants. The grants are administered through the Kentucky Division of Waste management. Recycling and Local Assistance manager Gary Logsdon says the goal is to find a market for these worn-out tires.
Franklin County’s Fiscal Court has approved a resolution formally opposing a natural gas liquids pipeline that could cross the Commonwealth. If it’s built, the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline would carry the byproducts of natural gas drilling to processing plants on the Gulf of Mexico. Read more...
A rare fish in central Appalachia called the diamond darter will soon be under federal protection. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday that the diamond darter's protected status under the Endangered Species Act will become effective in 30 days.
Over the past few years, more and more of America’s energy has come from natural gas. And much of that gas has come from the Marcellus and Utica Shales, which lie mostly under parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, Ohio and Maryland. Extracting the gas yields a profitable byproduct: natural gas liquids. These are hydrocarbons such as ethane, butane and propane. They're used in plastics, synthetic rubber and antifreeze, among other products. Tapping into and using these liquids could help make the United States more energy independent, by replacing the foreign petroleum that's currently used in some of these manufacturing processes. Read more....
The nuclear waste facility at Maxey Flat, as it's known by locals, sits astride the Fleming-Rowan County Line.
The three-year process of installing a permanent cap atop the Maxey Flat nuclear waste disposal site is underway. Steve Beshear today became the first governor to visit the site since the Commonwealth took ownership in 1978.
One of six hybrid buses used by Lextran. Mass transit company is in market for cleaner, cheaper vehicles that use alternative fuels.
The fuels used by Lexington’s mass transit system could undergo substantial change over the next decade. Diesel still powers most of Lextran’s buses, but recently, more attention has been paid to alternative fuels. Some buses also utilize battery power, while others rely solely on compressed natural gas. Lextran Spokeswoman Jill Barnett says the bus company wants to replace about half its 73-vehicle fleet over the next seven years. So, Barnett says Lextran’s in the market for cleaner, fuel efficient buses.
A pair of vegetation rafts afloat at McConnell Springs near downtown Lexington.
Fertilizers are essential to modern horticulture, but they can also promote the spread of pond scum. Most often, pond scum feasts on nitrogen and phosphorus washed in from neighboring fields. Hoping to protect the quality of Lexington’s McConnell Springs Pond, the Friends of Wolf Run loaded rafts with plants. Project Coordinator Ken Cooke hopes the plants will consume unwanted fertilizers.
When we talk about exporting energy sources to other countries, the conversation tends to center on fossil fuels. Here in Kentucky, it's all about coal, and even as the nation cuts back on coal burning, many mines are hoping that burgeoning economies in Asia will help fill in the economic gaps. But the BBC Newshour had an interesting story this morning about another fuel that America is exporting: wood. Trees that are grown in the Southeast are being sent to Europe to fuel biomass boilers, and there's a debate about whether that process actually helps the European Union further its stated goals of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.Read more...
Think that you’re free of cicadas until 2017? Think again. Several thousand of the red-eyed insects have emerged in Mount Healthy, said resident cicada guru Gene Kritsky, the College of Mount St. Joseph biology professor. As the temperature climbs into the upper 80s this week, he expects that there could be outbreaks in areas such as Anderson Township, Greenhills and Hyde Park.
Persistent precipitation continues to stymie Kentucky farmers’ efforts to plant their 2013 corn and soybean crops. As of Sunday, just 39 percent of the state’s corn crop had been planted, barely half the pace of the five-year average and far behind last year, when corn planting was nearly finished, according to the USDA’s Agricultural Statistics Service’s Louisville field office. Just 23 percent of corn plants have emerged so far; normally, half the corn is out of the ground by now. Read more...
Credit Harry Schaefer / US National Archives and Records Administration
A new report takes a comprehensive look at the numerous factors behind the decline in Central Appalachian coal production, and predicts that more production declines are in the future. The report was released today byDownstream Strategies, a West Virginia-based environmental consulting company. Lead author Rory McIlmoil says over the past few years, the most commonly-cited reasons for problems in the coal industry have been regulatory challenges and declining coal reserves. And while those play a major role, there are other factors, too. Read more...