Environmental Watchdog

10:38am

Tue August 2, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Hot, Dry Conditions Continue to Stress Crops

Very hot and dry conditions continues to stress crops and livestock, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Louisville field office reported Monday. While much of the corn, soybean and other crops remain in good or excellent condition, a growing portion is declining into fair or poor condition, it said.

9:36am

Sun July 31, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Engineers Present Options to Fix Dam

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.

10:07am

Thu July 28, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Heat Affecting High School Activities

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.

8:54am

Thu July 28, 2011
Opinion

Green and Blue, But Not Bright

Fluorescent light bulbs are set to be banned in favor of more energy efficient CFL lights. However, in July alone, there have been three light-related votes.
iStockphoto.com

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.

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6:00am

Wed July 27, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Coal Ash: Government's Response

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.

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10:30am

Tue July 26, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

7 Counties Declared Disaster Areas

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.

6:00am

Tue July 26, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Coal Ash: Electric Utilities React

Louisville Public Media

“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.

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3:19pm

Mon July 25, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Recycling in the Park

New recycling-waste container at Waverly Park in Lexington
Stu Johnson Weku

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.

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9:52am

Mon July 25, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Coal Calls New EPA Rules ‘Overreaching’

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.

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6:00am

Mon July 25, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Coal Ash: The Health Threat

Louisville Public Media

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.”

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1:49pm

Fri July 22, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

KY in Top 20 'Most Toxic' States

Kentucky is among the states with the worst air quality, according to a report released this week.  The report was commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council, but used data self-reported by industries and publicly available on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. Kentucky ranked fourth in the list of the 20 ‘most toxic’ states.

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10:00am

Fri July 22, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Dangerous Heat in Forecast

Besides dealing with a high heat index, Jason Caldwell Jr. and Kyla Gerkey handled a "thermo cart" that produced 450-degree heat to install traffic stripes Thursday on Midland Avenue. It takes the high temperature for the plastic to bond to the blacktop.
Charles Bertram Lexington Herald-Leader

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.

4:47pm

Thu July 21, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Kentucky Finishes 4th in Dirty Air

A newly released report says Kentucky has some of the dirtiest air in the nation. You can’t see the particles emitted from coal burning power plants, but they’re thick in Kentucky’s air. That’s according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council.  The NRDC says Kentucky has the fourth dirtiest air in the nation. The group analyzed data gathered by the Environmental Protection Agency and ranked states accordingly. John Walke works on clean air policy for the environmental group.

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3:21pm

Thu July 21, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Algae on the Go

Growing Algae Based Oil in the Lab
Stu Johnson Weku

The algae which once blanketed the prehistoric earth could help power Kentucky’s cars.  Within ten years, plant and soil sciences professor Joe Chappell says algae under study at the University of Kentucky could provide a high value oil.

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3:16pm

Thu July 21, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Bloomberg Funds “Beyond Coal” Campaign

This morning, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a $50 million grant to the Sierra Club, to be doled out over four years. The Sierra Club says they’ll use the money for their “Beyond Coal”campaign, which works to transition the nation away from coal.The Sierra Club said the gift from Bloomberg will effectively retire one-third of America’s aging coal-fired power plants by 2020, and replace them with clean energy.  The announcement was made in front of a power plant in Alexandria, Virginia, by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.

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1:29pm

Thu July 21, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Excessive Heat Warning Remains

It’s official - it’s excessively hot outside. The National Weather Service in Louisville has placed most of central Kentucky and southern Indiana under an excessive heat warning. Today’s high temperature is expected to be 97 degrees, but combined with humidity, it could feel as hot as 115. Friday and Saturday also have heat indexes ranging from 105 to 115. Temperatures in the low to mid-90s will continue into next week. To avoid peak temperatures, the weather service recommends that strenuous outdoor activities be scheduled for the early morning or evening hours.

10:39am

Thu July 21, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Brutal Heat Settles Over KY

An excessive heat warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for all of Kentucky through 9 p.m. EDT Saturday. The mercury will hover between the low- to mid-90s through the period. Combined with high humidity, heat index values will range from 110 to 115 degrees. The high heat indices will create dangerous conditions for those who work or play outdoors, those without air conditioning, those with chronic health conditions and for the elderly and outdoor pets.

10:36am

Thu July 21, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Ky. 11 Reopens After Mudslide

Rogers and other transportation workers began clearing Ky. 11 on Wednesday morning. The two-lane state highway was cleared by the afternoon. State officials will continue to monitor the stretch for debris.
Charles Bertram Lexington Herald-Leader

A north-south artery in Powell County that was closed by a mudslide reopened Wednesday evening, a spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's District 10 in Jackson said. The slide brought mud and trees onto Ky. 11 after 3 to 4 inches of rain fell in about 90 minutes Tuesday night, said H.B. Elkins, spokesman for the Jackson office. While the road was closed, motorists going to Natural Bridge State Resort Park near Slade on Wednesday were asked to take a detour.

5:03pm

Tue July 19, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

A Study in Compost

Composting Bins at the Lexington Arboretum
Stu Johnson Weku

A crash course in composting is available this summer in Lexington.  The classes are increasingly popular. The idea is to, for instance, mix green vegetation, brown leaves, and cracked egg shells with potato skins.  The successful compost pile often features leaves, twigs, grass clippings and food scraps.  But, Recycling Program Specialist Esther Moberly  says only certain food scraps should find their way into the compost heap.

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4:54pm

Tue July 19, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Power Cooperative Looks For Alternatives

In 2010, grassroots activists in Kentucky launched a movement to halt the construction of a new coal-burning power plant in Clark County - and won. Now, as part of the agreement, a collaborative made up of energy providers and environmental groups is looking for cleaner alternatives to help power the 500,000 homes, farms, and business that rely on the East Kentucky Power Cooperative. David Mitchell, Collaborative chair, says meeting the challenge will take effort from power companies and power users.

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8:51am

Fri July 15, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

LG&E Issues Contradictory Coal Ash Study

Louisville Gas & Electric has released a second study on coal ash. It follows another thatshowed the company is possibly in violation of pollution laws. LG&E says this second report is more accurate, but it might not matter in the long run. People who live near the Cane Run Power Station have complained that fly ash is leaving the landfill and contaminating their homes. The first report, released earlier this week by LG&E, confirmed there were high concentrations of fly ash on their houses.

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1:39pm

Thu July 14, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Carbon Capture Research Stops at AEP

For the past few years, American Electric Power has been working on a carbon capture and sequestration project at their Mountaineer Power Plant in New Haven, West Virginia. The plant used a chilled ammonia process to remove the carbon dioxide from the gas emitted from the plant, then the carbon was injected underground for storage in porous rock. Here’s a documentary I produced while at West Virginia Public Broadcasting, which describes the technology at Mountaineer.

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8:38am

Thu July 14, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

LG&E Report Confirms Coal Ash Concerns

Science has backed up claims by people living near the Cane Run Power Station in Louisville who say the plant’s coal ash is contaminating their homes.  This could lead Metro Government to take action against Louisville Gas & Electric. Next to LG&E’s Cane Run Power Station there’s a coal ash landfill. It holds the fly ash that’s leftover after coal is burned. The residents of Cane Run Road say the ash routinely blows off the landfill and travels onto their property, coating siding and windows. Now, this new report commissioned by the power company is the latest study to lend credence to those concerns.

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2:42pm

Wed July 13, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Coal Ash Found in Louisville Homes

A new report has confirmed that coal ash is contaminating the homes of residents who live near a Louisville power plant. Residents have complained about dust from the Cane Run Power Station traveling onto their properties.A study commissioned by Louisville Gas & Electric took six samples off of nearby homes, and all came back showing significant amounts of coal ash.

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5:32pm

Mon July 11, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Lawyers Claim Inbreeding Skews Mine Data

Last month, researchers at Washington State University and West Virginia University released a study that found a correlation between mountaintop removal mining birth defects. A law firm with ties to the National Mining Association has refuted the study’s findings, but in the process, insulted many Appalachians. Inbreeding in Appalachia is one many stereotypes, perpetuated by movies and even Vice President Dick Cheney in 2008 at a National Press Club Event:

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9:53am

Mon July 11, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Wind Power Before Mason County Board

Controversy continues over the possibility of wind turbines being erected in western Mason County. Concerned citizens attended the regular monthly meeting of the Mason County Joint Planning Commission last week. NextEra Energy Resources, a Florida-based company, began conducting studies last year to determine if wind turbines could be feasible in Mason and Bracken counties.

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6:40am

Mon July 11, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Writer To Deliver Coal-Related Speech

National correspondent for The Atlantic James Fallows is in Louisville this week. Fallows is a keynote speaker at the Kentucky Chamber’s annual meeting. Fallows will deliver a speech based on his recent article “Dirty Coal, Clean Future.” The story, which was published in December, examines the future of coal in the United States.

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6:03am

Fri July 8, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

New Standards For Power Plants

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is finalizing a new air pollution rule that’s meant to reduce power plant emissions. The rule will affect Kentucky, but not immediately. The EPA’s new rule is meant to control sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, which are often blown across state lines. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says regulating such interstate pollution is essential, because a state shouldn’t be penalized for pollution it can’t control.

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4:07pm

Wed July 6, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Fireworks Light Up Pollution Monitors

Some parts of Louisville sounded like a war zone last weekend as fireworks laws were relaxed and residents celebrated the Fourth of July holiday. But all of those fireworks contributed to some of the area’s air quality problems. There are two main kinds of air pollution: fine particle and ozone. Louisville has been having a number of problems with ozone lately, but this weekend there was also a higher amount of particle pollution in the air from fireworks. Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District spokesman Matt Stull says the high level isn’t necessarily caused by the city’s official fireworks, but it seems the sheer number of people lighting explosives over the weekend helped push the reading over the threshold.

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11:02am

Mon July 4, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

New EPA Regulation Polices Pollution in KY

The Louisville area has had six Air Quality Alerts because of high ozone levels so far this year.But the Environmental Protection Agency is scheduled to unveil a new rule this week that could eventually reduce those ozone levels. The Clean Air Transport Rule will affect states differently. Some will have to regulate both fine particle pollution and ozone, some will have to regulate one or the other, and some won’t be affected at all. Kentucky, as well as the entire Ohio River Valley, is among the 21 states that will have to reduce both types of pollution.

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