A poll conducted by CNN of more than 1,000 adult Americans found that 57 percent of them are opposed to the controversial practice of mountaintop removal mining. The cable news network conducted the survey in advance of the premiere of “Battle for Blair Mountain: Working in America,” a documentary produced by Soledad O’Brien. The piece looks at Blair Mountain in West Virginia, a mountain that played a large role in the unionization of the coalfields in the early 1900s. Mining companies hold permits on the mountains, and could choose to surface mine, which activists could ruin the environment and bury historical artifacts forever.
Several Kentucky cities and utility companies have signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to modernize and rehabilitate hydropower plants along the Cumberland River. Project manager Jay Sadler says the agreement implemented Tuesday allows the municipalities to maintain service by helping pay for the much-needed improvements.
With a little cooperation from Mother Nature, Hopkins County farmers could harvest corn and soybean crops that exceed early projections when soggy conditions disrupted spring planting. A lot depends on temperatures and rainfall this month, said George Kelley, Hopkins County agricultural extension agent. “The next three to four weeks are critical,” he said.
According to the federal government, the United States’ reliance on coal for electricity is decreasing. The percentage of America’s power generated by coal fell to a 30-year low at the beginning of this year. A report from the Energy Information Administration found that coal’s role in the country’s power mix is declining. Coal generated 46 percent of the nation’s energy during the first three months of 2011—a full three percentage points lower than the same period last year.
Adam Hendley stood still Wednesday with his car door open listening to a rustling through the grass two feet away from him. He was sure it was a snake. Then, he caught sight of the tell-tale rattler on the end of the slithering animal’s body. “I was kind of shocked, really,” he said. “I was a little concerned.”
‘Energy conservation’ is a primary feature in the University of Kentucky’s Davis Marksbury building. The structure, part of UK’s College of Engineering, is the first building on the Lexington campus to receive a LEED (LEAD) certification. LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environment Design is considered the standard rating system for the most energy efficient buildings.
Much of the speaking at this weekend’s Fancy Farm picnic trended towards national issues. Candidates praised the military, worried about public debt and criticized what is—or isn’t—getting done in Washington. But coal and federal environmental regulations were also a target in several speeches.
The Kentucky Public Service Commission Friday approved plans by the Northern Kentucky Water District for a $28.35 million project that will enable its Taylor Mill treatment plant to comply with stricter federal drinking water standards.
The Environmental Protection Agency says injecting carbon dioxide underground doesn’t pose substantial environmental or health risks. The agency is proposing a rule to classify carbon dioxide as a non-hazardous waste and encourage a controversial coal technology. Carbon capture and sequestration—or CCS—is a process where carbon dioxide is removed from the emissions of coal-fired power plants and injected deep underground. It’s not widely used because it’s not yet economical.
The federal government has denied a petition that would set pollution limits for states in the Mississippi River Basin. The decision was criticized by environmental groups today. Pollution released from wastewater treatment plants and farm runoff eventually travel from Kentucky to the Mississippi River and are contributing to a growing ‘dead zone’ in the Gulf of Mexico. A dead zone is a spot where pollution has sucked out all the oxygen and there’s no aquatic life.
Customers of Berea Municipal Utilities will soon have the option to invest in a small solar farm. The Berea Solar Farm won't be a moneymaker for investors. A 25-year lease for one panel will cost about $700. The average residential customer uses an average of 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month, and a single panel would provide about one-twentieth of that energy.
Sandhill cranes are large, red-capped migratory birds that haven't been hunted in Kentucky for almost a century. But as Alan Lytle reports, that could change in just a few months if a proposal to establish a sandhill crane hunting season is approved by a legislative subcommittee.
Customers of Berea Municipal Utilities will soon have the option to invest in a small solar farm. The Berea Solar Farm won’t be a moneymaker for investors. A 25-year lease for one panel will cost about $700. The average residential customer uses an average of 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month, and a single panel would provide about one-twentieth of that energy.
The National Weather Service office in Louisville has issued a heat advisory for Wednesday afternoon for an area of south central Kentucky. The heat index could hit 105 degrees, the weather service said.
The eventual destruction of the 81-year-old Milton-Madison Bridge over the Ohio River, scheduled for next year, has presented a rare opportunity for researchers at Purdue University. Robert Conner, an associate professor of civil engineering at Purdue and a national expert in the study of steel fatigue, is hoping to use the bridge to compile research that will help transportation officials throughout the United States better inspect and diagnose “fracture critical” truss bridges.
Bernheim Forest staff released bobwhite quail chicks today for the third consecutive year in an effort to reintroduce them to the forest. Fifty six-week old bobwhite quails waited in a crate, surrounded by a crowd of curious children and adults. The doors were opened, but the chicks needed some coaxing. Finally, they took their first flight.
Kentuckians who don’t want to see the state adopt a new sandhill crane hunting season have asked the governor to abandon the effort. Ben Yandell, who’s with the Kentucky Coalition for Sandhill Cranes, is not convinced there’s much support, even among hunters.
Officials in Butler, Ohio and Muhlenberg counties are left wondering what their next move is now that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has presented three proposals for fixing the Green River Dam at Rochester. The corps did take a look at what it would take to stabilize the dam and earlier this month presented three solutions, the first costing $799,000 for a temporary fix with rocks and mortar in front of the dam gates that are leaking. That fix could last 25 to 50 years.
This week's steamy weather is making outside activity tough, whether you're doing construction work or practicing to march in a high school band. Lexington's five public high schools are starting their band camps this week, and band directors say they're taking precautions to keep students safe as heat indices climb above 100.
Joseph Bottum is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and the author of The Second Spring: Words into Music, Music into Words.
In the beginning, there was a glade. A green and foresty place, a meadowy clearing in the great big woods. The robins called from branch to branch. A laughing stream wove gently through the dell. A rabbit hopped through the long grass, bright with morning dew. All was well, and all manner of things were well — until, one day, the evil came.
Kathy Little and Debbie Walker stand in Walker’s front yard, 50 feet from the ash landfill at Louisville Gas & Electric‘s Cane Run plant. They watch as heavy machinery backs up, pushing ash from one pile to another.Both women have lived in the neighborhood for decades—Little for 33 years, Walker for 23. Walker says she used to be able to see Indiana from her window. Now, she just sees the mountains of coal ash.
President Barack Obama has declared seven Eastern Kentucky counties a disaster area as a result of severe storms, tornadoes and flooding from June 19-23. The state government and local governments — as well as some non-profit organizations — in Bell, Breathitt, Knott, Knox, Lee, Magoffin and Perry counties will be eligible for federal aid to help pay for emergency work and repairing facilities damaged by the severe weather.
“Okay, here’s our ash pond!” Steve Turner exclaims. He’s the general manager at Louisville Gas & Electric’s Cane Run Power Station, and he is giving Kathy Little and her husband Tony a tour of the plant. “You can see bottom ash, but it’s down at the water level, so it stays wetted.” Cane Run is one of the two coal-fired power plants within the Louisville city limits, and both store byproducts, like coal ash, on site. LG&E has invited three nearby families to the plant to discuss the results of recent dust sampling. The Little family, as well as the Walkers and the Cunninghams, were invited because samples taken off their homes showed high concentrations of coal ash. LG&E is doing damage control.
New recycling containers now enhance the landscape of Lexington parks. 59 containers with one section for waste and another section for recyclables are being situated in parks. Bill Clarke, who's with Parks and Recreation says the container handles various recyclables. “Primarily aluminum cans and plastic bottles, cardboard, paper. We don’t like to get items that have been soiled or contaminated with food,” said Clarke.
After two years, the federal government has released new guidelines for surface coal mines. In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would increase scrutiny on a number of mountaintop removal permits in Appalachia and would release guidelines for future permits.Those guidelines were released last week. Mine operators will now find it much harder to get permits for valley fills—where valleys and streams are filled with debris from mining.
You can’t see the smokestacks of the Cane Run Power Station from Stephanie Hogan’s home, even though she lives a block away. And while the power plant isn’t visible, it’s still a looming presence in Hogan’s life. “Oh, he breathes so bad, he sounds like Darth Vader.” Hogan shakes her head, and Cody wheezes. “You ain’t even been running.”
It's so hot, air conditioners are melting. Or, more accurately, they are being overtaxed by the heat and humidity that has engulfed much of the nation and caused the National Weather Service in Louisville to issue an excessive heat warning for Kentucky. The warning is in effect until Saturday.