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.
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on a bill tomorrow that would change the way the Clean Air Act is administered. The bill is called TRAIN for short—the long name is the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011. TRAIN began as a bill to require analysis of the cumulative effect of upcoming environmental regulations, but various amendments, including one by Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield, have changed it into a bill that would delay air pollution regulations, some for years, some indefinitely.
Fifty-two more homes in Perry County, Kentucky will be hooked into city water systems soon, after a state agency determined their drinking water was affected by mining activity more than thirty years ago. The state’s Abandoned Mine Lands funds go to abate hazards created by mining before the federal Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act went into effect. Steve Hohmann is the head of the Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands.
This Saturday Lexington will take part, for the first time, in a global rally called Moving Planet. The day of action is meant to spotlight issues surrounding climate change. Moving Planet is an outgrowth of 350.org, an environmental campaign launched by author Bill McKibben. The international rally brings together more than 165 countries and a host of grassroots organizations. This year, Lexington will join those groups, thanks to architect and organizer Clive Pohl.
Green building is often seen as a luxury. A lot of projects are capital-intensive, and take years to make up for their costs in energy savings. But as energy prices rise, sustainable buildings are starting to make even more fiscal sense for all types of buildings.The corner of Seventh and Liberty streets in downtown Louisville is loud and busy. A bus stops, letting off passengers.
Just one Wilmore City Council member said "neigh" Monday night when the council took a step toward prohibiting horse owners and anyone else with large farm animals from keeping them in town. Under the ordinance, which exempts poultry and goats, residents of Wilmore would not be able to keep horses, cattle, sheep, llamas, donkeys, mules or buffalo within the city limits unless they had two acres per animal. The animals also could not be kept within 200 feet of a neighboring residence, city park, church or school.
After a dam failed in Martin County in 2000 and released more than 3 million gallons of coal waste into area creeks, university sociologists began studying how the disaster affected local residents. The survey’s results found they were more distrustful of the local, state and federal governments than those living in surrounding counties. Now, the same researchers have completed a follow-up a decade later and found that issues linger, but some trust has been regained.
Kentucky gets most of its electricity from coal, but as new air pollution rules go into effect, coal becomes more expensive than it used to be. A presentation in Louisville tonight will discuss policies that can spur alternative, and cleaner, energy in the commonwealth. Kristin Tracz is a research and policy associate with non-profit Mountain Area Community Economic Development. She says a smart economic move for Kentucky would be to pass the Clean Energy Opportunity Act—a bill that’s been introduced in the state legislature in the past two sessions.
President Barack Obama is using a crumbling Kentucky bridge over the Ohio River as a prime example of the need to rebuild the nation's aging infrastructure. "There's a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that's on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America," the president told Congress Sept. 8. But it was a second Kentucky bridge over the Ohio River that officials ordered closed the next day after engineers found cracks in its steel beams. That closure is forcing tens of thousands of vehicles through jammed city streets and onto a third Kentucky bridge over the Ohio River, this one rated by inspectors as even less sufficient than the others to remain in service.
We know where the problems are in Lexington's dilapidated sewer system, now the next step is to fix them. The city's Division of Water Quality is preparing to send a proposed course of action to the EPA in Washington. And officials are warning residents to expect major sewer construction for several years to come.