Environmental Watchdog

2:26pm

Tue June 25, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Living Rafts Cleanse Water at McConnell Springs

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.

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3:00pm

Tue May 28, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

America's New Energy Export Is...Trees?

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...

7:48am

Tue May 28, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Cicadas Back in Town

Credit University of Kentucky

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.

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12:30pm

Wed May 15, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Rain Delays Corn Planting in Kentucky

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...

10:09am

Tue May 14, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Further Declines in Coal Production, Demand Predicted

Credit Harry Schaefer / US National Archives and Records Administration

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...

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7:20am

Tue May 14, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Data show Decade-Long Increase in CO2 Emissions

Credit Louisville Public Media

New state-level data from the Energy Information Administration shows that carbon dioxide emissions fell in most states in the last decade. But Kentucky saw a slight increase in emissions. Thirteen years ago, Kentucky was emitting 144.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, generated during electricity generation. Ten years later, that number was up to about 150 million metric tons. That’s more than a four percent increase.

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9:24am

Tue May 7, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Cold Front Could Bring Frost by Next Week

Credit Creative Commons

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.

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1:51pm

Mon May 6, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Analysis Shows CO2 Reductions if Current Energy Laws Stay in Place

Credit Energy Information Administration

Tax credits for renewable energy are set to expire, but a new study shows that current energy policies, if they're kept in place, would reduce carbon dioxide emissions over the next thirty years. The Energy Information Administration is an arm of the federal government, but is policy neutral. This means they don’t advocate for certain policies; they just crunch the numbers.

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6:59am

Mon May 6, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Ag's Impact on Environment Under Study

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.

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1:09pm

Fri May 3, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Rain is Likely on Kentucky Derby Day

Credit Creative Commons

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.

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12:28pm

Sun April 28, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Two Southern Indiana Landmarks on Endangered List

Old Clarksville Site
Credit Indiana Landmarks

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.

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2:16pm

Tue April 23, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Scientists Call For Moratorium on Mountaintop Removal Mining

Credit Gabe Bullard/WFPL

Call it a battle of the researchers. Scientists who have both affirmed and denied connections between mountaintop removal coal mining and serious health problems have intensified their efforts to bring public attention to their work recently. Today, a commission of scientists released an analysis of some of the recent research, and concluded that there should be a moratorium on mountaintop removal.

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11:54am

Tue April 23, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Rain and Colder Temperatures on the Way

Credit Creative Commons

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.

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5:31pm

Mon April 22, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

LG&E, Charah Partner to Create New Agriculture Pellet from Coal Byproduct

Credit Erica Peterson/WFPL

A partnership between LG&E and KU and a Kentucky company could help both the energy and agriculture sectors, Kentucky leaders announced Monday. Kentucky company Charah  is opening up a facility in Louisville that will take leftover gypsum from the Mill Creek Power Station and turn it into a sulfur product—such as fertilizers—for Kentucky farmers.

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5:29pm

Mon April 22, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Court Rules Army Corps' Streamlined Coal Mining Permit Doesn't Protect Environment

Credit Gabe Bullard/WFPL

An appeals court has 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.

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11:41am

Tue April 16, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

New Clean Water Technology Will Be Tested in Louisville

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.
Credit Jeff Fitlow / Rice University

A new nanotechnology to clean up contaminated water will soon be tested in Louisville. It will use two precious metals—gold and palladium—to remove chloroform from contaminated groundwater at the DuPont plant in Rubbertown. Nanotechnology is a term that refers to materials made in a lab that manipulate chemicals at an atomic level. They’re smaller than a red blood cell, hence “nano.”

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12:43pm

Mon April 15, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Illegal Burning Can be Unhealthy, Dangerous

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.

12:33pm

Mon April 15, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Study Finds Most Coal-Fired Power Plants Can't Compete Against Natural Gas

Credit Erica Peterson/WFPL

A new study estimates that 65 percent of current coal-fired power plants won’t be economical to run in the near future. It’s been a common refrain when reporting on the coal industry: the fuel isn’t as competitive as it used to be because of low natural gas prices and increased environmental regulations. But the new study by researchers at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment quantifies the effects of natural gas and government regulations on the coal industry.

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11:19am

Fri April 12, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Forest Fires Burn Across Pike County

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.

5:05pm

Wed April 10, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Severe Weather Expected on Thursday

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.

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5:02pm

Wed April 10, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Legislative Committee Advances New Selenium Regulations

The Kentucky Administrative Regulation Review Committee has advanced new rules proposed by the state Energy and Environment Cabinet to regulate the levels of selenium in Kentucky waterways. The state says the new regulations are a necessary update, and will adequately protect the environment and aquatic species; but environmental groups have raised serious concerns and say the proposal doesn't comply with the federal Clean Water Act and is unenforceable.

1:37pm

Thu April 4, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

March 2013 in Kentucky One of the Coldest on Record

Credit Creative Commons

Following a record warm March in 2012, a persistent pattern of wintry weather across Kentucky left March 2013 as one of the coldest on record. The statewide average temperature for March based on the Kentucky Mesonet, the Commonwealth’s official source of climatological observations, was 39.8 degrees while the statewide average temperature for March 2012 was 57.9 degrees, according to Stuart Foster, state climatologist and director of the Kentucky Mesonet.

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12:35pm

Tue April 2, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

EPA Will Assess Some Flame Retardant Chemicals for Potential Human Health Effects

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to assess 23 commonly-used chemicals—including 20 flame retardants—for their potential effects on human health and the environment. The study will also include an analysis of how several of those flame retardants behave in the environment…like whether they bioaccumulate in humans or can be absorbed into the body with a certain type of exposure.

3:12pm

Tue March 26, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Poll Shows Louisville Residents are More Concerned About Air Quality Than Other Kentuckians

Credit Erica Peterson/WFPL

A new poll shows that Louisville residents are more concerned about air quality than those living in other areas of the state. In a poll conducted by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky in October, nearly three-quarters of the Louisville residents surveyed said they were either “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about the local air quality. Those numbers were much lower—between 40.3 percent and 48.7 percent—for residents in other regions of the state.

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11:20am

Tue March 26, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Winter Hangs on in Kentucky

Credit Creative Commons

Winter just isn't ready to let go yet, as Lexingtonians learned when they awoke Monday morning and found the city decorated in white. Snow with additional accumulation is expected to continue Tuesday morning, with low temperatures to go with it. That's quite a change from this time last year.

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5:40pm

Mon March 25, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Most of Kentucky Will See Snow This Evening

Credit Creative Commons

Most of Kentucky will see snow this evening but amounts will vary widely. A winter weather advisory remains in effect until 7 p.m. CDT today for Western Kentucky. Snow will generally accumulate about an inch, the National Weather Service Paducah office said. Major travel issues are not expected, the weather service said, but winds will be gusty at times.

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5:35pm

Mon March 25, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Leading Conservation Scientist to Speak at U of L

M. Sanjayan
Credit The Nature Conservancy

A leading conservation scientist will speak at the University of Louisville tomorrow about the ways the environmental movement can better tackle subjects like climate change. M. Sanjayan is the Nature Conservancy’s lead scientist and a wildlife research professor. He says today, the relationship between people and nature is symbiotic. The planet isn’t pure and pristine anymore—instead, it’s been shaped by more than 20,000 years of human habitation. Sanjayan says it’s important to see humans as part of the solution to fixing the earth’s environmental problems.

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2:16pm

Sun March 24, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Rain Will Change to Snow Late Today

Rain will change over to snow late today and continue into Monday, according to the National Weather Service. Accumulations of 1 to 2 inches are possible for Central Kentucky. Cities in the impacted area include Hawesville, Elizabethtown, Louisville, Bedford, Shelbyville, Frankfort, Georgetown, Lexington, Carlisle, Bardstown, Nicholasville and Winchester, according to the NWS office in Louisville.

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2:10pm

Fri March 22, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Winter Storm Heads Our Way Later this Weekend

Credit Creative Commons

Old Man Winter refuses to cut us any slack and is now threatening to throw more snow our way later this weekend. That will be associated with a big winter storm taking aim at the Ohio Valley Sunday and Monday. Guess what comes in behind that? If you said more cold and snow showers, you are a winner!

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1:43pm

Fri March 22, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Energy Efficiency Saves Money, Teaches Lessons at Kentucky School

Richardsville Elementary
Credit Erica Peterson / WFPL

Kentucky’s utility rates are among the lowest in the nation. But even so, several public school districts have found that it still pays to build energy efficient schools. One such school in Warren County has taken efficiency even further, and is now generating more energy than the building uses.

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