Tigers, grizzly bears, sea turtles and humpback whales have long been mascots of endangered species. But then…there’s the pink mucket, which once peppered river bottoms in Kentucky, but has been decimated by pollution. Earlier this week, a team of scientists ventured into the Green River in an effort to reintroduce lab-grown pink muckets into their natural habitat.
The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has cited three Kentucky coal mines for safety violations. They were among 20 nationwide with a history of compliance problems targeted in MSHA’s special impact inspections. The mines cited were Vision Coal’s Mine #2 in Letcher County, and two Harlan County mines: D&C Mining Corporation’s mine and Linsco Energy LLC’s Mine No. 1.
State and federal biologists have released more than 100 endangered mussels into the Green River by Mammoth Cave National Park. The pink mucket mussel is a federally endangered species. The mussels used to be abundant in the Green River, but pollution and human interference with the water’s flow decimated the population. Now, scientists hope they can reestablish the population.
Student protesters are lobbying University of Kentucky officials to improving or shuttering the school's two coal boilers. The activists see opportunity in the new administration's push to upgrade campus facilities.
FRANKFORT - The state announced on Tuesday the awarding of $2.9 million in a federal grant to 11 communities and organizations around Kentucky for the development of watershed management plans and implementation of nonpoint source pollution controls. “Protection of our water resources is fundamental to our environment, our economy and good public health,” Gov. Beshear said. “These grants will fund efforts to help control pollution from sediment, pesticides and other substances that run off our land when it rains.”
The first phase of a project using algae to convert carbon dioxide into fuel will begin at Dale Power Station next week, East Kentucky Power Cooperative and state leaders announced Friday in Lexington. East Kentucky Power Cooperative will work with the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, allowing the center to demonstrate the new technology at its plant. The module uses algae to capture the carbon dioxide from coal-burning power plants, before converting it into fuel.
For the third year in a row, policy-makers, academics and activists will gather for the Bluegrass Bioneers conference at the University of Louisville. The conference is a satellite extension of the national Bioneers conference in California. While the main event is more than 2,300 miles away, organizers in Louisville have designed the Bluegrass version of the Bioneers conference to address local environmental problems.
A bill to update the nation’s pipeline safety standards after a fatal explosion in California has passed the U.S. Senate, despite long-term opposition by Kentucky senator Rand Paul. Paul had been single-handledly blocking the legislation for weeks. The bill would put new safety and environmental measures in place to regulate natural gas pipelines. The measure was introduced after a pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California killed eight people last year.
The federal government is predicting that the country’s appetite for coal will have decreased further by the end of the year. The Energy Information Administration expects coal will generate nearly 2 percent less of the nation’s electricity than it did last year, and the amount of electricity generated from coal could decline an additional four percent in 2012. This is mostly due to a small increase in natural gas-generated electricity, and a large increase in hydroelectric power.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating coal ash—a byproduct of burning coal for electricity. The bill gives control of coal ash disposal to the states, which are required to regulate it as least as stringently as municipal waste.
A Kentucky coal mine has been flagged as unsafe by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The Letcher County mine is the fourth recently placed on a ‘potential pattern of violations’ status. The mine is Dennis Creg Yonts’ Number Two Mine in Dean, operated by Vision Coal. Kevin Stricklin of MSHA says the notice amounts to a warning, of sorts.
The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a bill tomorrow that will block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating coal ash. The bill has support among House Republicans, but environmental groups are lobbying against it.The bill is sponsored by West Virginia Representative David McKinley. It would let individual states regulate the disposal of coal ash, which is a byproduct of burning coal for electricity. Under the bill, the states would have to regulate the ash at least as stringently as they regulate municipal waste.
Things have gotten bad enough at Harrodsburg's wastewater treatment plant that city commissioners declared a state of emergency Monday so it can make repairs quickly without going through the normal bidding process. The plant is still operating effectively but is in danger of coming out of compliance with state regulations for treating wastewater, which could result in fines, Mayor Eddie Long said.
Sugar beets could very easily be putting people to work in Whitley County in the not too distant future if Roger Ford has his way, but these aren't the beets that your grandpa grew in his garden. Ford, a partner with Patriot BioEnergy LLC, wants to grow industrial beets that will be turned into fuel.
Kentucky and Indiana are among twenty-five states seeking a delay in federal regulations to reduce mercury and other toxic air pollution. The deadline for the Environmental Protection Agency to set standards for mercury and other toxic air pollution is November 16. But twenty-five states have filed a brief in the case asking a judge to push that back another year. As it’s proposed, the rule gives utilities three years to comply. Allison Martin in the Kentucky Attorney General’s office says the commonwealth joined the filing because it will need more time to comply.
Improper surface-mining practices caused or worsened flooding that killed a man and destroyed or damaged numerous homes in Knox County in June, more than 70 people affected by the disaster have claimed in a lawsuit. Jack Spadaro, a former federal mining official who is a consultant on the lawsuit, said it was the first claim in Kentucky he is aware of that alleges flooding caused by surface mining directly caused a death.
Carbon capture and sequestration projects are picking up around the world, according to a new report, even as some in the United States have recently been shuttered. According to the Global Institute for Carbon Capture and Sequestration, the technology’s future is bright. CCS, as it’s known, is a process by which carbon dioxide is removed from emissions before it gets to the atmosphere, then is injected deep underground.
A North Carolina law professor has filed an ethics complaint against the Washington, D.C. law firm that insinuated inbreeding was responsible for birth defects in Appalachia. The law firm made the comments while trying to refute a study connecting mountaintop removal to birth defect rates. Law firm Crowell and Moring raised several issues with the study’s methodology, including that the authors failed to account for consanguinity—or inbreeding—which can also cause birth defects.
Environmental groups in West Virginia have reached a settlement with a coal company over water pollution near mine sites. The decision could affect a similar case in Kentucky. Earlier this year, local environmental groups and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against St. Louis-based Arch Coal over selenium pollution at six West Virginia mines.
This morning, the Environmental Protection Agency responded to an email asking for comments on a letter Governor Steve Beshear sent to President Barack Obama earlier this week. In an interview, Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters expressed frustration with the EPA’s requirements for permits. He says Kentucky worked with the regional EPA on a template for future permits and came to an agreement, but the deal was rejected by the EPA headquarters.
Organizers of a cigarette litter task force say a summer campaign targeting downtown Lexington and two major hospitals significantly reduced the number of cigarette butts on the ground. The task force was the first major project of the Keep Lexington Beautiful Commission. Commission member Jane Eller says the project involved a public education effort and installing more cigarette receptacles outside building entrances.
The Associated Press had a story out yesterday about declining Appalachian coal reserves, and whether those are more to blame for cuts in the coal industry than federal regulations. The story starts with Jerry Howard, an eastern Kentucky mine owner who closed his mine two years ago.
Dozens of rare animals and plants in Kentucky will be considered for protection as endangered species under federal law, though the process for many won't start for years. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that it would study whether 374 species in 12 southeastern states should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. That list included 36 species in Kentucky, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed the petition that led to the review.
If you want to see a bear, you don't have to go to a zoo. Chances are a trip to Williamsburg might just suffice. Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird said that there have been numerous bear sightings in the city over the last three months, and authorities don't think it is the same animal being spotted multiple times.
Environmental Protection Agency region four administrator Gwen Fleming says, despite tense negotiations in the past, cooperation between her agency and state government on issues such as surface mining and emission standards is still possible.
As federal policies make burning coal more expensive, many utilities—including Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities—are transitioning their older coal plants to natural gas. But a new study cautions that natural gas may not be a panacea to stop the effects of climate change.
This month a central Kentucky organization celebrates its 10th anniversary. The group is Bluegrass PRIDE, which stands for Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment. Kentucky Public Radio’s Brenna Angel spoke with Amy Sohner, Executive Director of Bluegrass PRIDE about some of the work the accomplished over the past ten years.
While asking for emergency funds to repair the Sherman Minton Bridge, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear told President Obama the state’s economy needs less federal regulation of the coal industry. The governor met with Mr. Obama before his speech in Cincinnati on Thursday, where the president rallied support for the $447 billion American Jobs Act.
Last week, Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities announced a plan to retire three coal-fired power plants over the next four years. The plants will be replaced by facilities that burn natural gas—which is cleaner than coal. The utilities are part of a growing trend across the nation to retire older coal plants. To most people, a gas turbine doesn’t sound any different than a jet engine, or than the sounds you’d expect to hear in a coal-fired power plant. But in terms of what this sound means for the region’s energy mix, it’s a big deal.