Environmental Watchdog

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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8:16am

Mon July 4, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Invasive Beetle Nears Kentucky

An invasive insect could be set to enter Kentucky. The Asian Longhorn Beetle was spotted in trees southeast of Cincinnati within a few miles of the Ohio River. If it makes it to Kentucky it may be difficult to eradicate. The beetle has been in the United States since the 1990s, when it stowed away in shipping containers from Asia. Now, it’s living in many forests, where it bores into trees and eventually severs all the vascular tissue and kills the plant.

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4:15pm

Fri July 1, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Wild Pig Numbers Increase in Kentucky

The feral pig problem is spreading in Kentucky. The animals aren’t native to the commonwealth, but were illegally brought into the state and let loose for hunting. They’ve been copiously reproducing ever since. In 2009, wild pigs were only in about 23 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. Now, they’re in 44, and spreading. Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Mark Marraccini says the animals have few redeeming characteristics.

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6:26am

Thu June 30, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Gov't Faults Massey in Mine Explosion

Federal regulators held a briefing today in West Virginia to discuss their investigation into the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion. The Mine Safety and Health Administration says the explosion on April 5, 2010 that killed 29 miners in southern West Virginia was preventable. In a presentation, MSHA administrator Kevin Stricklin outlined Massey’s failures at the mine, including a focus on coal production at the expense of proper safety measures.

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6:24am

Thu June 30, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Fatal Mine Accident in Harlan

A Harlan County miner became the nation’s ninth coal miner to die on the job this year, and the second in Kentucky. The name of the miner hasn’t been released, but the accident happened at the Manalapan P1 mine at Pathfork this morning. Investigators from the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing are on the scene, and preliminary reports suggest the miner was killed in a roof fall. 

7:38am

Wed June 29, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

MSHA Cites Six Kentucky Mines

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has cited six Kentucky mines for safety violations. Those mines were among the 19 nationwide that the agency inspected in May as part of their special impact inspections, which target mines with a history of compliance problems.

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3:57pm

Tue June 28, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Lawsuit Filed Against Two Coal Companies

Several environmental groups are threatening to sue two eastern Kentucky coal companies for thousands of water violations. They say the state won’t take action. This comes as the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet is lobbying to have even more control over the state’s waterways. The notice of intent to sue was sent from Appalachian VoicesKentuckians for the Commonwealth and several other organizations to International Coal Group–recently acquired byArch Coal–and Frasure Creek Mining. They say the coal companies self-reported thousands of violations at eastern Kentucky mines.

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1:37pm

Tue June 28, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

TVA Supports WKU's Energy Saving Program

Western Kentucky University already was spending money on projects to reduce energy use. So when the university learned it could receive additional incentives through the Tennessee Valley Authority, it was an added bonus. On Monday, WKU received a check from TVA for more than $106,000, money that will be plowed back into the energy savings program on campus, according to WKU President Gary Ransdell.

1:34pm

Tue June 28, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Rally for Cleaner Kentucky River

“Big Coal makes us sick.” That was the message printed on bright orange signs held by activists at a rally on the banks of the Kentucky River in Clark County Saturday morning. The signs had a double meaning. Just days after the media reported results of a study linking pollutants from mountaintop removal mining to a higher incidence of birth defects, members of the Sierra Club and other groups called on Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration to do a better job of enforcing the federal Clean Water Act.

10:30am

Tue June 28, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Corn Beginning to Tassel in Kentucky

Corn has begun tasseling in Kentucky while soybean planting is nearing its conclusion, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service field office in Louisville reported Monday. Nine percent of the corn had tasseled as of Sunday, approximately two weeks behind last year because of the rain-delayed planting this spring. The corn crop is rated in mostly good condition. Soybean planting was 85-percent complete, down from the five-year average of 92 percent at this time of year. The crop is rated in mostly good condition.

7:56am

Thu June 23, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

EPA Oversight of Water At Risk

A measure that would gut the nation’s Clean Water Act has cleared a House committee. House Resolution 2018 would basically allow states to set their water quality standards on their own. Right now, the federal Environmental Protection Agency administers the Clean Water Act. States can adopt stricter requirements, but the EPA sets the minimum bar.

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6:14am

Wed June 22, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

EPA Extends Comment Period

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is giving the public thirty more days to comment on a rule to regulate air pollution. Comments on the EPA’s proposed air toxics and mercury standards were initially due July 5, but now that’s been pushed back a month.

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6:00am

Wed June 22, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

"Biosolid" Fertilizers Cheap, but, Worrisome

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

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2:37pm

Mon June 20, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Paper Criticizes Opponents of Clean Air Rules

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:

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6:29am

Mon June 20, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Electric Highway Proposal Submitted

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.

6:24am

Mon June 20, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Bacteria Keeps Lake Barkley Beach Closed

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.

2:24pm

Fri June 17, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Couple Finds 2nd Pair of White Robins

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.

3:59pm

Thu June 16, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Algae may be Cause of Ohio River Fish Kill

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.

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2:30pm

Thu June 16, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Unknown Chemical Spill in Ohio River

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.

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1:54pm

Thu June 16, 2011
Environmental Watchdog

Lextran Unveils 'Green' Buses

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.

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