Given the high price of petroleum-based fertilizers, more farmers are considering sludge from sewage treatment plants. It’s free, but, many local governments worry about the safety of so-called biosolids. And, as Sandy Hausman reports from Virgina, it also makes some farm neighbors uneasy
The New York Times’ editorial yesterday took power giant American Electric Power to task for its opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed air standards. AEP has been contradicting itself lately, telling the public that the eventual closing of two dozen power plants will result in major job losses, even while the company tells investors otherwise:
Ralph Tharp has submitted a grant application seeking $500,000 to plan and design a network of electric car recharging stations on interstates in Kentucky. The application with several local endorsements was submitted last week to the U.S. Department of Energy, and federal officials could make a decision by September, says Tharp, executive director of the Kentucky Capital Development Corporation. He envisions a network of recharging stations at rest areas, restaurants and tourist attractions on Interstates 64, 75, 71 and 65. Such a plan would be the first project east of the Rocky Mountains. Oregon, Washington and California created a similar system stretching more than 1,300 miles on Interstate 5 from Seattle to southern California with recharging stations every 40 to 60 miles.
The beach at Lake Barkley State Resort Park, which usually opens on Memorial Day weekend, still hasn’t opened this year because the waters have tested for high levels of E. coli bacteria. “We’ve got our fingers crossed that next week we’ll open,” park manager John Jordan said in a phone interview Friday. The bacteria has forced closings of Lake Barkley’s beach in the past — most recently in 2009, Jordan said. He doesn’t know why the bacteria builds up, but he cited the goose population as a potential factor.
In May, Hubert and Louise Sparks were surprised to find a rare albino robin under a big tree in their front yard. Imagine their surprise when, on Thursday, they found another one in the same place a month later. Meanwhile, a full-grown robin was flitting about from fence post to fence post, making excited noises. The Sparkses found the first albino robin, which was completely white and had pink eyes, at their home at 1816 Ecton Road, on May 11.
The head of Louisville's Sewer District says the fish kill on the Ohio River last night may have resulted from an algae bloom, rather than a chemical spill as was previously reported. The sheen on the Ohio River was noticed south of Rubbertown by cameras at Dow Chemical’s plant, and about 20 Asian Carp were found dead. It was initially thought to be a chemical release from somewhere upriver, but water sampling by three separate entities was negative.
An unknown chemical leaked into the Ohio River last night, killing several fish. But water samples taken since then show no sign of any contamination. A sheen was noticed on the river’s surface by cameras at Dow Chemical’s plant, south of Rubbertown. The Lake Dreamland Fire Department first responded to the call and alerted the Coast Guard and Health Department.
LexTran unveiled seven energy-efficient new buses Wednesday. Two operate on hybrid electric technology, and the five others run on diesel-powered engines that adhere to the 2010 Clean Air Act, featuring an additional air scrubber that produces cleaner exhaust emissons. Jill Barnett, spokeswoman for Lexington's public transportation agency, said the new buses were part of LexTran's efforts to "go green," coupled with the agency's need for new buses. There are more than 70 buses in the fleet. A bus lasts about 12 years, Barnett said. The money for the buses came from a $2.94 million 2009 earmark from U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.
The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency faced the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works today to discuss the EPA’s proposed air rules. Lisa Jackson also talked about the new air standards’ impact on public health. In March, after a 20-year political and legal battle, the EPA proposed its first-ever national standards for regulating mercury and other air pollution from power plants. Jackson told the committee that when power plants have to comply with the new standards, it’ll have an incredible effect on Americans’ health.
Thanks to a grant from the state's Kentucky Pride Fund, both the Breathitt County and Wolfe County Fiscal Courts will share in nearly $143,000 to expand recycling, reduce the amount of solid waste going into their landfills and maintain environmental management programs in the two counties. The recycling grant going toward Breathitt and Wolfe counties was among 73 grants statewide – 59 recycling grants and 14 household hazardous waste grants – which totaled over $3.5 million.
Alpha Natural Resource’s CEO says his company’s acquisition of Massey Energy improves the company’s position in the international market. Kevin Crutchfield said Massey’s vast metallurgical coal reserves were one reason the merger made sense for Alpha. During an interview with West Virginia MetroNews, he said he also expects to be providing coal for electricity to developing nations.
Today a group of US House Republicans introduced a series of bills to stream line renewable energy production, but Kentucky lawmakers say that still won’t help secure America’s energy future. Kentucky’s energy industry is up in arms over what they say are excessive regulations for coal. And a group of Republicans say that also extends to renewable energies on federal lands…such as geothermal and wind production. Kentucky Republican Ed Whitfield says the Obama Administration needs to free up domestic energy production.
Community leaders in Lexington are rolling out a campaign they hope will cause a significant drop in cigarette litter. In a recent survey of one block in downtown Lexington, members of the Keep Lexington Beautiful Commission counted more than 600 cigarette butts on the ground. Commission chair woman Patricia Knight says many smokers don’t take the time properly dispose of their cigarettes.
The coal industry and politicians have done a good job labeling Kentucky as a coal state. But not all coal is equal. Not chemically, not geologically and not financially. As Kentucky Public Radio's Erica Peterson reports, some types of coal are much more valuable than others.
Wildlife management officials say they can’t test bats again for white nose syndrome until November. In April, officials confirmed the first cases of the fungus at a cave in Trigg County. Right now, Wildlife Diversity Program Coordinator Sunny Carr says bats are mating and raising young, and they can’t be studied. However, Carr says it is possible they can spread the spores that cause white nose.
A $200,000 federal grant will clean up Covington's Stewart Iron Works property while city leaders debate its future. The Environmental Protection Agency grant will clean up hazardous chemicals such as lead paint and petroleum at the 100-year-old building.
From January 2009 through April 2011, left-leaning group Media Matters analyzed television news guests who commented on the Environmental Protection Agency’s role in regulating greenhouse gases. They found that 76 percent of these commentators were critical of the federal agency’s regulations, and 18 percent were in favor. When the news guests are broken down by network, Fox News hosted even more guests against EPA regulation: 81 percent of Fox News guests and 83 percent of Fox Business guests.
FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded four brownfield grants to Kentucky totaling $800,000 to fund the assessment and cleanup of properties with environmental problems. Brownfields are properties that are abandoned or underutilized due to real or perceived environmental contamination. They can include old factories, former gas stations, mine-scarred lands and abandoned dry cleaning establishments.
According to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, coal production in eastern Kentucky declined in 2010, even though the industry saw a slight boost in western Kentucky. The variance in production is partially due to the different mining conditions found in the two regions. In eastern Kentucky, coal production declined by nearly 10 percent from 2009. But during the same time period, production increased by more than 13 percent in the western part of the state.
Environmental activist and president of the Waterkeeper Alliance Robert Kennedy Jr. was on The Colbert Report on Wednesday to discuss mountaintop removal (or, as Colbert calls it, ‘flatland enhancement’) and his new movie The Last Mountain. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is coming to Louisville on Sunday June 12 for the Flyover Film Festival. It focuses on Coal Mountain, in the Coal River Valley of West Virginia, and the attempts of citizens to stop mining on the mountain and replace it with a wind farm.
The World Health Organization still isn’t sure where the rare strain of E. coli that’s spreading across Europe came from, but some believe it may have been spurred by the overmedication of cattle. And there are lots of cattle in Kentucky—more than any other state east of the Mississippi. At a farm in Oldham County, cows are lying in the shade with their calves to escape the midday sun. Foxhollow Farm has 250 cattle which are fed grass, not grain, which cows can’t properly digest and is often laced with antibiotics. All of the meat Foxhollow sells is antibiotic-free.
FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Public Service Commission Thursday told state lawmakers how it reviews the coal-related environmental compliance costs that electric utilities in Kentucky are entitled to pass on to their customers.
U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell knows which side he's on in the "war on coal." Speaking before the Kentucky Coal Association in Lexington Wednesday, McConnell said the Environmental Protection Agency has defied logic and operated outside the scope of its authority with a permitting process that leaves coal operators in limbo.
Shareholders of Massey Energy and Alpha Natural Resources will vote Wednesday on a proposed merger. If approved, the deal would make Alpha the world’s third largest producer of metallurgical coal. The company has said it intends to retain five Massey executives, all of whom were in leadership positions during the Upper Big Branch explosion last year in West Virginia.
Officials with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will hold a public meeting this week in western Kentucky to talk about the growing problem with Asian Carp in some of the state’s lakes, rivers and tributaries.
State Fisheries Director Ron Brooks says two species of the Asian Carp have infiltrated areas of the state from the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and are out-competing natives species for food.
Looking ways to save energy and money, the City of Berea has joined in an Energy Cost Savings Plan. The project is a collaboration of Berea city government, the Kentucky Environmental Foundation and Sustainable Berea. Mayor Steve Connelly says rising gasoline prices justify a change.
Some Berea College students are taking their concerns about the health risks of mercury to federal officials. They’re headed to Atlanta to take part in an Environmental Protection Agency hearing Thursday. Cassy Hobert of Frenchburg is going because she’s worried about her unborn baby.
“And so when I started doing the research for this, for mercury contamination, for mercury pollution as preparation to go to Atlanta, I found some really disturbing statistics, like as many as 1 in 6 women in the United States have mercury levels in their blood high enough to put an unborn child at risk,” said Hobert.
A recently-formed group that aims to move the Ohio River Bridges Project forward is seeking to join, then end a lawsuit between conservation group River Fields and the Federal Highway Administration. Kentuckians for Progress filed a request to join River Fields’ suit against the government today. River Fields asserts that the federal government has not properly justified the case for a two bridge project, and the group would like to block an east end bridge from being built.