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.
Credit Stites & Harbison
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.
Credit Stu Johnson / WEKU News
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...
Keep your coats and hats handy. We could see temperatures in the 30s by next week, weather forecasters warn. WKYT-TV chief meteorologist Chris Bailey says it will get warmer gradually this week, possibly, reaching the 70s by Wednesday, with chances of showers or thunderstorms almost daily. But the bottom might fall out this weekend.
Even locally-grown and organic produce impact the environment. Researchers at the University of Kentucky are working up a method for measuring those impacts. U-K Sustainable Agriculture Extension Specialist Lee Meyer says they want to fully understand farming’s impact on the quality of air, soil and water quality.
Heading to the Kentucky Derby on Saturday? Be prepared to be rained on. Louisville has a 90 percent chance of rain showers on Saturday—part of a system that may drop as much as two inches of precipitation on the city through the weekend, the National Weather Service said.
Two southern Indiana sites are on the latest list of the state’s Most Endangered Places, compiled by the preservation group Indiana Landmarks. One of the places, the Old Clarksville Site, is a holdover from last year. The nearly 300 acre site along the Ohio River includes remnants of pre-historic settlements, and the spot where Lewis and Clark launched their expedition of the western U.S. in 1803.
A cold front will invade parts of Kentucky tonight and Wednesday - possibly producing thunderstorms. The biggest chance for thunderstorms will be in Central Kentucky late tonight and early Wednesday. Severe storms are not expected, according to the National Weather Service office in Louisville, but gusty winds are possible, particularly east of Interstate 65.
An appeals courthas ruled in favor of environmental groups that argued the streamlined permit the government used to permit mountaintop removal mines wasn’t protective of the environment. The decision was issued today by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Pikeville. It finds that the U.S. Army Corps’ issuance of the streamlined “Nationwide 21” permit is in violation of the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Rice University scientists Michael Wong (left) and Juan Velazquez are working with researchers at DuPont and Stanford University to field test PGClear, a scalable process for removing chlorinated pollutants from water.
Spring-cleaning season has arrived, and for many Kentuckians that means burning unwanted debris. The Kentucky Division for Air Quality reminds residents to learn before you burn. Illegal burning could result in fines of as much as $25,000 per day per violation. Many people may not realize that burning trash is illegal in Kentucky. State law prohibits the burning of many materials including plastic, tires, cans, coated wire, carpeting and food waste. In addition, the burning of trailers, buildings, and construction and demolition debris such as shingles, drywall and insulation is prohibited.
As several fires continue to burn in wooded areas across Pike County on Thursday, forestry officials said the fires are now under control. According to Tad Norris, the district forester for the Kentucky Division of Forestry’s Eastern District, three woodland fires were burning in Pike County Thursday in areas near Grapevine, Dorton and Elkhorn City. Norris said the fires have been brought under control and have been contained.
Thunderstorms are predicted this afternoon for southern Indiana. Those storms will slowly drift southward. In the meantime, a strong storm system in the Plains will move into the western Ohio Valley tonight. Rain, thunderstorms, with large hail and damaging winds, are likely tonight in Kentucky - particularly in areas west of Interstate 65, the National Weather Service office in Louisville said.