Jason Martinez helped James Osbourne top tobacco Thursday on a Mackville Road farm. Osbourne has 12 acres in the patch.
Credit Jesse Osbourne / Springfield Sun
Tobacco farmers in Washington County who have been around a while may recognize the quality of tobacco this year’s crop is producing. Memories from the drought of 1983 stir like the dust that blows in the hot, dry summer wind. “This is the worst tobacco crop I’ve ever had,” James Osbourne, who has been raising tobacco for 20 years, said. “My dad thinks the tobacco is as bad as that (1983).” An ill-timed mixture of extreme wet conditions and extreme heat have concocted a bitter tasting result for farmers.
Cumberland Avenue in downtown Cumberland was blocked off to traffic on Tuesday when drains overflowed covering the roadway.
Credit Nola Sizemore / Harlan Daily Enterprise
With the Tri-Cities area of Harlan County receiving 7.03 inches of rain within a 48-hour period, flooding occurred in low-lying areas in Blair. Jackson-based National Weather Service Forecaster Pete Geogerian said most other areas of Harlan County received from 5.26 to 5.77 inches of rain over the Labor Day weekend.
New research on residents of two counties in southeastern Kentucky show the area’s attitude about the environment has changed since the recession. Researchers with the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire surveyed residents in Harlan and Letcher counties in 2007, then returned this year to see whether and how beliefs have changed.
Sharon Bale is the epitome of a woman for all seasons, and while she’ll tell you she retired this spring, that’s hardly the case. For 36 years she has apologized for the dirt under her fingernails, but that’s the nature of the beast as a horticultural extension specialist in the College of Agriculture at the University of Kentucky. She has driven back and forth from her home in Country Lane Estates in Frankfort to Lexington sometimes six days a week to dig.
The three coal-fired units along Herrington Lake opened in 1957. KU plans to spend $402 million to comply with new regulations.
Credit Kentucky Utilities
There's no doubt that Kentucky's electricity bills are on the rise, as utilities sort out how much it will cost them to comply with new federal environmental regulations. Kentucky Utilities, the largest electricity provider in Central Kentucky, has asked the state Public Service Commission for permission to increase the average customer's monthly bill more than 12 percent by 2016. But this case is far different than those that are familiar to most people. It's not about base rates, which look at the price for a kilowatt hour of electricity. It's about the environmental surcharge you find on your bills.
Researchers at the University of Kentucky have discovered an alloy that could possibly split water into hydrogen and oxygen using solar energy. With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and supercomputer technology, Professors Madhu Menon and Michael Sheetz found that the alloy is a mixture of gallium nitride and a small amount of antimony. Menon says he thinks the technology could someday be accessible to everyone and available on the open market.
Louisville is mired in a string of unhealthy air days, and the ozone levels expected today and tomorrow will be the highest the city has seen so far this year. A study recently released suggests links between climate change and increased ozone exposure. Ozone happens when pollution from exhaust and industries combine and chemically react in the presence of heat and sunlight. So, as average temperatures in some regions rise, we could see more bad air days.
An area elementary school is being honored for its efforts to go green. Rosa Park Elementary was rewarded with a visit from Mayor Jim Gray and Congressman Ben Chandler. When students and staff at Rosa Parks Elementary decided to make their school greener, they set what they thought was a realistic goal - a ten percent reduction in overall energy use, saving the school around 15 to 20 thousand dollars. But a year later Principal Leslie Thomas took a look at the numbers.
Lincoln Trail and Trailhead will be open during the Labor Day weekend. “The (trail) construction is close to being finished,” Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Pat Reed said in a news release. “There are still some piles of gravel at the trailhead, but our crew has cleared the way for folks to be able to use the area over the holiday weekend. “We will go back in after the weekend to put on the finishing touches.”
There’s an Air Quality Alert in effect for today and another one for tomorrow. So far, 18 alerts have been called this year; that’s the same number declared last year. Air pollution causes irritation in the lungs, and the immune system reacts to it. But when someone has breathing problems and is exposed to natural allergens in the air AND pollution, the effects are intensified. Dr. Gerald Lee is a professor of allergy and immunology at the University of Louisville. He’s done research on the effect of diesel exhaust particles and dust mites on asthmatic mice.
Kentucky has received approval from the federal government to again allow the hunting of Sandhill cranes. That means the state can go forward with its plan to hold the first authorized hunt of the large migratory birds in about 100 years. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources says the approval this week from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency means officials could open a 30-day hunt as early as Dec. 17.
The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration is publishing a proposed rule tomorrow that could require all mine operators to eventually install safety devices on certain types of mining equipment. MSHA’s proposed rule would phase in a requirement that mine operators use proximity warning devices on their continuous miners—the large machines that scoop coal from the face of the mine. Proximity warning devices are safety features that automatically shut off the machine when miners are too close, and they’re meant to protect coal miners from being crushed by machinery while underground.
The Environmental Protection Agency is holds a meeting today to let the public weigh in on a proposal to manage pollution in Floyds Fork, a tributary of the Salt River that runs through Jefferson and four other counties. The EPA is getting involved in what’s usually a state process because of the watershed’s size and complexity.
This image of a wild pig was caught on a trail camera owned by Lewis County resident Andrew Sauley in the Concord area.
A few scattered reports of wild pigs in Lewis County have filtered in to Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Officer Cory Ellis since September, he said. However, Ellis said it was only recently that hard proof of the existence of the pigs showed up in the form of photographs taken by Tollesboro resident Andrew Sauley.
The Kentucky Division of Water has released reports detailing the levels of pollution in two western Kentucky streams. Division of Water spokeswoman Allison Fleck says Clarks River and Cypress Creek are contaminated, but the division isn’t sure exactly where the E. coli is coming from.
The last of the septic systems inside the city Lexington will almost certainly become history someday. First though, city officials must find the necessary funds.
Septic tanks were once commonplace in Lexington. The concrete containers, which were normally buried, use a system of pipes to safely distribute waste water underneath a backyard. But, Division of Engineering section manager Bob Bayert says the central Kentucky topography sometimes works against the process.
When the Congressional super-committee sits down to cut the nation’s spending, everything is fair game. But a new report released by four non-profit groups suggests the panel look first to cutting energy subsidies. The report is called Green Scissors, and it was released today by groups that promote free market capitalism, consumer protections, the environment, or fiscal responsibility. It highlights the $380 billion in spending that goes to subsidize oil, gas and coal, as well as tax breaks and government loans.
With relatively minor damage and no loss of life as a result of Tuesday's earthquake, Governor McDonnell will be putting that natural disaster on the back burner … as he focuses on the upcoming hurricane expected to hit the Commonwealth over the weekend.
Kentuckians should not be excessively concerned about two earthquakes Tuesday on opposite ends of the country — Colorado and Virginia — triggering a similar temblor here, one of the state's leading earthquake experts said Tuesday. Tuesday's earthquake, which reportedly had a preliminary magnitude of 5.8, was centered in Northern Virginia, but it was felt in Boston, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, Washington and as far north as Toronto. The earthquake was felt as far west as Paintsville, Pikeville and Frankfort.
Kentucky’s horse racing industry could benefit from a new sustainability program. A state initiative will help racetracks comply with environmental regulations and reduce their footprint. Horse racing is important to Kentucky’s economy, but huge events like the Derby take their toll on the environment—from the trash produced to animal waste and electricity usage.
Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency were in eastern Kentucky last week to meet with residents of four communities affected by coal mining. But as those residents shared their stories and concerns, the coal industry criticized the trip as one-sided and anti-coal.
A cultural center that celebrates Lexington’s Black community now also sets a standard for energy efficiency
The Lyric Theater and Cultural Arts Center is the first city owned building to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold Certification. LEED certified buildings are designed to reduce waste, conserve energy and water, and improve indoor air quality. For example, architect Susan Hill says the theater will benefit from solar power generated by the Fayette County School System
Kentucky State Police Detective Gary Travis wades through the Gasper River on Thursday as he collects meth making supplies that had been dumped there.
Credit Miranda Pederson / Bowling Green Daily News
Allen Key watched Thursday morning as drug investigators emerged from a wooded area along Warren County's Gasper River with trash bags full of toxic waste - the remnants of methamphetamine labs. “It’s disturbing,” he said as law enforcement officers from the Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force and the Kentucky State Police double-bagged the waste for disposal. Investigators found three garbage bags full of meth waste in the river and discovered another bag on dry land near the road. In all, drug investigators found 30 to 40 pounds of toxic waste, most of it in the river.
Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency are in Kentucky, touring areas in the eastern part of the state and meeting with residents who are concerned about the effect of coal mining on their communities. At a community meeting last night in Whitesburg, the officials listened to residents describe their problems with coal dust, mountaintop removal blasting and the lack of state and local regulation enforcement.
For most of this week, WFPL Environment Reporter Erica Peterson has been following EPA officials around the state. Contrary to the rhetoric of politicians on both sides of the aisle in Kentucky, she reports residents are thrilled to see federal officials in their communities and want more regulations. Coincidentally it also happens to be Coal Miners’ Appreciation Week, which Paul issued a statement Thursday in recognition of while scolding the federal agency.
A section of the East Jessamine soccer field between the stands and the field was surrounded by orange fence last week after high levels of E. coli were found in standing water.
Credit Jonathan Kleppinger / Jessamine Journal
Remediation work is being completed on the soccer field that was closed last week due to E. coli contamination, and the field could be ready for play as soon as Tuesday. A test sample of standing water at the East Jessamine soccer complex off Wilmore Road revealed a concentration of E. coli nine times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s acceptable risk criteria. The field was closed Aug. 10 after an engineering firm advised school officials skin contact with water was the only danger present.
A new study faults Kentucky regulators for their lax oversight of coal ash. There are more than nine million tons of coal ash generated in Kentucky every year. The ash, left over after coal is burned, is stored in ash ponds and dry landfills. The report says the combination of lots of ash and little regulation earns Kentucky the rank of the fifth worst in the United States.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced Monday that it’s giving the University of Kentucky a $14 million grant earmarked for coal technology research. Carbon capture and sequestration is a process by which carbon dioxide is removed from power plant emissions, then injected deep underground. It’s controversial because it’s very costly and many of the available technologies decrease power plants’ efficiency.