Environmental Watchdog

5:29pm

Mon April 22, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Court Rules Army Corps' Streamlined Coal Mining Permit Doesn't Protect Environment

Credit Gabe Bullard/WFPL

An appeals court has ruled in favor of environmental groups that argued the streamlined permit the government used to permit mountaintop removal mines wasn’t protective of the environment. The decision was issued today by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Pikeville. It finds that the U.S. Army Corps’ issuance of the streamlined “Nationwide 21” permit is in violation of the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

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11:41am

Tue April 16, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

New Clean Water Technology Will Be Tested in Louisville

Rice University scientists Michael Wong (left) and Juan Velazquez are working with researchers at DuPont and Stanford University to field test PGClear, a scalable process for removing chlorinated pollutants from water.
Credit Jeff Fitlow / Rice University

A new nanotechnology to clean up contaminated water will soon be tested in Louisville. It will use two precious metals—gold and palladium—to remove chloroform from contaminated groundwater at the DuPont plant in Rubbertown. Nanotechnology is a term that refers to materials made in a lab that manipulate chemicals at an atomic level. They’re smaller than a red blood cell, hence “nano.”

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12:43pm

Mon April 15, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Illegal Burning Can be Unhealthy, Dangerous

Spring-cleaning season has arrived, and for many Kentuckians that means burning unwanted debris. The Kentucky Division for Air Quality reminds residents to learn before you burn. Illegal burning could result in fines of as much as $25,000 per day per violation. Many people may not realize that burning trash is illegal in Kentucky. State law prohibits the burning of many materials including plastic, tires, cans, coated wire, carpeting and food waste. In addition, the burning of trailers, buildings, and construction and demolition debris such as shingles, drywall and insulation is prohibited.

12:33pm

Mon April 15, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Study Finds Most Coal-Fired Power Plants Can't Compete Against Natural Gas

Credit Erica Peterson/WFPL

A new study estimates that 65 percent of current coal-fired power plants won’t be economical to run in the near future. It’s been a common refrain when reporting on the coal industry: the fuel isn’t as competitive as it used to be because of low natural gas prices and increased environmental regulations. But the new study by researchers at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment quantifies the effects of natural gas and government regulations on the coal industry.

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11:19am

Fri April 12, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Forest Fires Burn Across Pike County

As several fires continue to burn in wooded areas across Pike County on Thursday, forestry officials said the fires are now under control. According to Tad Norris, the district forester for the Kentucky Division of Forestry’s Eastern District, three woodland fires were burning in Pike County Thursday in areas near Grapevine, Dorton and Elkhorn City. Norris said the fires have been brought under control and have been contained.

5:05pm

Wed April 10, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Severe Weather Expected on Thursday

Thunderstorms are predicted this afternoon for southern Indiana. Those storms will slowly drift southward. In the meantime, a strong storm system in the Plains will move into the western Ohio Valley tonight. Rain, thunderstorms, with large hail and damaging winds, are likely tonight in Kentucky - particularly in areas west of Interstate 65, the National Weather Service office in Louisville said.

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5:02pm

Wed April 10, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Legislative Committee Advances New Selenium Regulations

The Kentucky Administrative Regulation Review Committee has advanced new rules proposed by the state Energy and Environment Cabinet to regulate the levels of selenium in Kentucky waterways. The state says the new regulations are a necessary update, and will adequately protect the environment and aquatic species; but environmental groups have raised serious concerns and say the proposal doesn't comply with the federal Clean Water Act and is unenforceable.

1:37pm

Thu April 4, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

March 2013 in Kentucky One of the Coldest on Record

Credit Creative Commons

Following a record warm March in 2012, a persistent pattern of wintry weather across Kentucky left March 2013 as one of the coldest on record. The statewide average temperature for March based on the Kentucky Mesonet, the Commonwealth’s official source of climatological observations, was 39.8 degrees while the statewide average temperature for March 2012 was 57.9 degrees, according to Stuart Foster, state climatologist and director of the Kentucky Mesonet.

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12:35pm

Tue April 2, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

EPA Will Assess Some Flame Retardant Chemicals for Potential Human Health Effects

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to assess 23 commonly-used chemicals—including 20 flame retardants—for their potential effects on human health and the environment. The study will also include an analysis of how several of those flame retardants behave in the environment…like whether they bioaccumulate in humans or can be absorbed into the body with a certain type of exposure.

3:12pm

Tue March 26, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Poll Shows Louisville Residents are More Concerned About Air Quality Than Other Kentuckians

Credit Erica Peterson/WFPL

A new poll shows that Louisville residents are more concerned about air quality than those living in other areas of the state. In a poll conducted by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky in October, nearly three-quarters of the Louisville residents surveyed said they were either “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about the local air quality. Those numbers were much lower—between 40.3 percent and 48.7 percent—for residents in other regions of the state.

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11:20am

Tue March 26, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Winter Hangs on in Kentucky

Credit Creative Commons

Winter just isn't ready to let go yet, as Lexingtonians learned when they awoke Monday morning and found the city decorated in white. Snow with additional accumulation is expected to continue Tuesday morning, with low temperatures to go with it. That's quite a change from this time last year.

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5:40pm

Mon March 25, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Most of Kentucky Will See Snow This Evening

Credit Creative Commons

Most of Kentucky will see snow this evening but amounts will vary widely. A winter weather advisory remains in effect until 7 p.m. CDT today for Western Kentucky. Snow will generally accumulate about an inch, the National Weather Service Paducah office said. Major travel issues are not expected, the weather service said, but winds will be gusty at times.

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5:35pm

Mon March 25, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Leading Conservation Scientist to Speak at U of L

M. Sanjayan
Credit The Nature Conservancy

A leading conservation scientist will speak at the University of Louisville tomorrow about the ways the environmental movement can better tackle subjects like climate change. M. Sanjayan is the Nature Conservancy’s lead scientist and a wildlife research professor. He says today, the relationship between people and nature is symbiotic. The planet isn’t pure and pristine anymore—instead, it’s been shaped by more than 20,000 years of human habitation. Sanjayan says it’s important to see humans as part of the solution to fixing the earth’s environmental problems.

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2:16pm

Sun March 24, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Rain Will Change to Snow Late Today

Rain will change over to snow late today and continue into Monday, according to the National Weather Service. Accumulations of 1 to 2 inches are possible for Central Kentucky. Cities in the impacted area include Hawesville, Elizabethtown, Louisville, Bedford, Shelbyville, Frankfort, Georgetown, Lexington, Carlisle, Bardstown, Nicholasville and Winchester, according to the NWS office in Louisville.

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2:10pm

Fri March 22, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Winter Storm Heads Our Way Later this Weekend

Credit Creative Commons

Old Man Winter refuses to cut us any slack and is now threatening to throw more snow our way later this weekend. That will be associated with a big winter storm taking aim at the Ohio Valley Sunday and Monday. Guess what comes in behind that? If you said more cold and snow showers, you are a winner!

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1:43pm

Fri March 22, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Energy Efficiency Saves Money, Teaches Lessons at Kentucky School

Richardsville Elementary
Credit Erica Peterson / WFPL

Kentucky’s utility rates are among the lowest in the nation. But even so, several public school districts have found that it still pays to build energy efficient schools. One such school in Warren County has taken efficiency even further, and is now generating more energy than the building uses.

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1:17pm

Thu March 21, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Capitol Lights Will Go Dark Saturday in Support of Earth Hour

Credit Creative Commons

Gov. Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear announce that the Capitol campus will go dark this Saturday in support of “Earth Hour,” an international environmental campaign sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, according to a news release from the governor's office.

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10:19am

Thu March 21, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Kentucky Denies Permit for Coal Ash Landfill At Trimble County Power Plant

LG&E's Trimble County Power Station
Credit Erica Peterson / WFPL

The Kentucky Division of Waste Management has denied a pending permit for a coal ash landfill in Trimble County. The proposed landfill would have been 218 acres, near Louisville Gas and Electric’s Trimble County Power Station. It was meant to store the coal ash produced by the plant, but ever since it was first proposed, the project has encountered numerous problems.

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5:28pm

Mon March 18, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Study Shows Illness More Likely in Coal Counties

Credit Gabe Bullard / WFPL

A new health study in Eastern Kentucky has found that residents in a county where surface mining is prevalent have a higher instance of illness than residents in two control counties. West Virginia University professor Michael Hendryx analyzed information from 952 adults in Eastern Kentucky.

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3:28pm

Fri March 15, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Carp Madness Tournament Tackles Invasive Species in Kentucky Lakes, Rivers

Credit Erica Peterson/WFPL

Asian carp is an invasive species of fish that can devastate aquatic ecosystems and, as they have a propensity for leaping out of the water, injure boaters. And once they've gotten into a river or lake, they're nearly impossible to get out. But for two days this week in Western Kentucky, teams of commercial fishermen tried. They descended on two lakes to catch as many Asian carp as possible. It was a tournament sponsored by the commonwealth and it was called…Carp Madness.

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12:42pm

Fri March 15, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Mine Safety Commission Rules in Favor of Whistleblower

Mackie Bailey in the P-1 Mine. The roof bolting machine's safety devices are visible in the foreground of the photo; law requires they be held against the roof.
Credit Mackie Bailey

The Kentucky Mine Safety Review Commission has ruled that a coal miner who reported unsafe conditions won’t be punished for breaking the law. Mackie Bailey worked at Manalapan Mining’s P-1 Mine in Harlan County. He says he was told to work without the necessary safety features on his roof bolting machine, and he did, because he was afraid he would lose his job if he refused. He eventually came forward and reported the situation to the state. Even so, he faced punishment for operating the machine in the first place.

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3:22pm

Thu March 14, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Unpredictable Weather in Store as Winter Shifts to Spring

Credit Creative Commons

Kentucky is in for a bit of unsettled weather over the next several days as winter shifts into spring. A possible mix of rain, thunderstorms, snow showers and temperatures ranging some 30 degrees - from the upper 20s to the mid-50s - dominate the forecast. “It’s a roller coaster,” said Scott Hickman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio.

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9:38am

Tue March 12, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Beshear Signs New Law Clarifying the Regulation of Biomass Plants

Credit David Wright/Wikimedia Commons

A new bill signed into law by Governor Steve Beshear last week clarifies the rules that regulate biomass plants in Kentucky. The bill gives additional guidance to the Public Service Commission on how to regulate biomass plants that sell power to a utility in Kentucky, with one particular project in mind: a biomass plant outside Hazard. Construction on the plant—owned by Lexington-based ecoPower—is expected to begin on the plant sometime this year.

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12:04pm

Tue March 5, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Snow Headed for Most of Kentucky

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Northern Kentucky beginning at 11 a.m. today and continuing until 1 p.m. Wednesday. Three to 5 inches of snow along with some ice is possible. Rain will mix with snow late this afternoon and then change over to all snow tonight.

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11:40am

Fri March 1, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Tornado Season Begins Today

Credit Creative Commons

Today is the official start of the tornado season. Kentucky led all states in 2012 with 23 tornado fatalities - the result of tornadoes that struck several locations around the state on March 2, 2012. Many experts say that preparedness is the key to avoid being a tornado fatality.

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2:20pm

Thu February 28, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Former Massey Executive Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges

Credit Brianhayden1980 / Wikimedia Commons

A former mine company executive in West Virginia pleaded guilty today to federal charges stemming from the 2010 disaster at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine. David Hughart was the Massey division president overseeing the mine when it exploded, killing 29 coal miners.

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5:40pm

Mon February 25, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

American Electric Power Agrees to Stop Burning Coal at Coal-Fired Units in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio

Credit Erica Peterson/WFPL

American Electric Power has agreed to stop burning coal at several coal-fired units in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. The company reached a settlement today with a coalition of environmental groups, several states and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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11:38am

Fri February 15, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Fatal Bat Disease Found in Two Kentucky State Parks

Credit Marvin Moriarty / USFWS

White Nose Syndrome has been found in two Kentucky state parks. State officials announced today that infected bats have turned up in caves at Carter Cave State Resort Park in Carter County and the Kingdom Come State Park Nature Preserve in Letcher County. White Nose Syndrome is caused by a white fungus, and is deadly to bats. Since 2006, the fungus has been found in 21 states. The disease has killed more than 6 million bats in four Canadian provinces and 19 states, including Kentucky. It was discovered in Mammoth Cave last month.

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1:01pm

Thu February 7, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

Spring-Like Weather Won't Last Long

Credit Creative Commons

It will be partly sunny today across most of Kentucky and the high will flirt with 60 degrees. But rain is likely in many areas of the state during the overnight hours with a low in the upper 30s. Friday morning could see more showers but it could turn mostly sunny by the afternoon with a high of near 45, according to the National Weather Service.

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1:00pm

Tue February 5, 2013
Environmental Watchdog

LG&E, Kentucky Settle Over Alleged Safety Violations in 2011 House Explosion

Credit Creative Commons

Louisville Gas and Electric could pay up to $250,000 to settle alleged safety violations that stemmed from a natural gas explosion in southern Jefferson County a year ago. The December 2011 natural gas explosion in southern Jefferson County destroyed a house, damaged several nearby properties and killed a dog. In the settlement, LG&E will pay $125,000 to the Public Service Commission. Another $125,000 in penalties is suspended pending the company’s completion of several remedial measures. The penalties are the highest ever assessed by the PSC in a safety case.

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