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.
A decision to allow Friends of Coal to sponsor the University of Kentucky-University of Louisville football game this Saturday isn't sitting well with some environmental groups. Friends of Coal, a campaign run by the Kentucky Coal Association, has paid 85-thousand dollars to put their name on three athletic events this year -- the Cats-Cards this Saturday being the first. The group will also hand out scholarship money to the UK minding department during halftime.
According to Reuters, the Environmental Protection Agency won’t meet its deadline for its greenhouse emissions standards for power plants. Originally, the rules were supposed to be released on September 30.
Mammoth Cave National Park has a $62 million annual influence on the area’s economy, a number that could be even greater with a renewed emphasis on its designation as an International Biosphere Reserve. About 500,000 visitors come each year to the park, spending $32 million. That, coupled with an annual income of $11 million for the 525 local jobs that are created and $19 million from the ripple effect, adds up to those benefits, according to park Assistant Superintendent Bruce Powell. But that return could be greater if further tourism develops as a result of the cooperation among the park and six counties near the park: Edmonson, Barren, Hart, Warren, Butler and Metcalfe counties.
Two bills to delay EPA air regulations cleared a subcommittee in the House of Representatives today. After two hours of spirited debate, the legislation advanced with no significant changes. The two bills target pending EPA rules to reduce air emissions from boilers and cement manufacturers. GOP members on the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power said passing the bills would further President Barack Obama’s efforts to create jobs and aid the economy.
Lexington residents can see details of a sanitary sewer proposal that will soon be sent to the EPA at public meetings hosted by the city's Division of Water Quality. A remedial measures plan to fix sewer overflows is due to the federal agency next month. Water Quality director Charlie Martin says future repairs will affect many parts of Lexington. "This is really kind of a briefing for interested parties to see how this may impact my neighborhood or where I live. As far as in the next 11 to 13 years am I likely to see a sewer line that's behind my house or in front of my house, is it going to be replaced or not?"
Volunteers will be out in force next week to “fall sweep” Kentucky highways. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) announced today that Sept. 18-24 is Adopt-a-Highway Fall Sweep Week. “The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet appreciates the efforts of our Adopt-a-Highway volunteers, who help keep our highways and communities beautiful and litter-free,” Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said.
The state of Indiana has temporarily closed the Sherman Minton bridge after their bridge inspection engineers discovered a crack in a load-bearing element during routine inspection and maintenance. “Because the safety of the thousands of people who use the I-64 bridge is of utmost concern, Gov. Daniels notified me of his decision to temporarily shut down the Sherman Minton until the structure can be inspected more fully,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in a press release Friday afternoon.
When Becky Bush looks out the windows of the living room in the new home where she and husband Perry plan to retire, the dominant view is of her neighbor's solar panels. If someone didn't know better, they would think the panels were in her backyard, rather than her neighbor's. But because of the properties' irregular configuration, the land belongs to the neighbor. The group of panels - totaling about 10 feet by 16 feet, and approximately 30 feet behind the Bush house - is ugly and spoils their scenic view, Becky Bush says.
The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection is proposing a settlement with a coal company over thousands of alleged violations of the Clean Water Act in eastern Kentucky. The deal will set a new record for pollution penalties in Kentucky, but environmental groups say it still falls short.
The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection is proposing a settlement with a coal company over thousands of alleged violations of the Clean Water Act in eastern Kentucky. The deal will set a new record for pollution penalties in Kentucky, but environmental groups say it still falls short. The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet filed a consent agreement earlier this week with Bardstown-based coal company Nally and Hamilton to address numerous violations of the Clean Water Act. They’re proposing the violations be settled for $507,000.
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.
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.
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.”