The regional compact that oversees water quality in the Ohio River has a new chairman. Kenneth Komoroski is an attorney that often represents the oil and gas industry. The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission—or ORSANCO—is a regional body that oversees pollution in the Ohio River. It’s governed by a board made up of members from all eight member states, plus up to three federal commissioners appointed by the president. The board appoints its own chair.
Kentucky fails to make the coal industry pay enough to clean up the environmental wreckage it leaves behind, according to the U.S. Office of Surface Mining. Though state and federal regulators are negotiating this summer in an attempt to solve the problem, Kentucky lawmakers said Thursday the criticism is another example of President Barack Obama's "war on coal."
A 240-pound black bear that has been trolling around Corbin for more than a week was caught by fish and wildlife officers Monday night near Baptist Regional Medical Center and then put down. According to Mike Marraccini, a spokesperson for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, officials had been tracking the adult male bear through the radio collar around its neck.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is praising a federal judge's ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency infringed on state's rights by setting up water-quality criteria for surface coal mining operations. The decision is considered a victory for the coal industry, which filed one of the four lawsuits against the EPA regulation along with West Virginia and Kentucky. According to EPA officials, the policy was set up to ensure a better system for surface coal-mining permits under the Clean Water Act.
FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Public Service Commission will hold public meetings next month in Paducah and Henderson to receive public comments on an environmental compliance plan and associated environmental surcharge request submitted by Big Rivers Electric Corp.
Over a dozen local food distributors from around the nation will convene in Kentucky this week to discuss ways to improve the local food movement. Louisville-based Grasshoppers Distribution will host the summit. The local food distributor recently earned the confidence and investment to grow its operations, but professionals say there's still work to do before small distributors can compete with larger stores.
For most Hardin County farmers, the idea of coming out ahead on corn they planted this past spring was abandoned several weeks ago. Record heat and drought conditions mean pollen died that usually would allow corn to reproduce. Plants had to use so much energy protecting themselves from the heat, they could not fill their ears to satisfaction. To make up for the losses, some farmers are considering planting more winter wheat than usual.
According to a new analysis by U.S. House Democrats, an increasing percentage of coal from mountaintop removal mines is being exported overseas. The report was released this morning, as the House Natural Resources committee held a hearing on a proposed stream buffer rule to protect Appalachian streams from coal mine pollution.
A report released today from the Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee analyzed coal export data and found that mountaintop removal mines are sending an increased percentage of coal produced oversees.
WINCHESTER – Due to recent rainfall, the ban prohibiting campfires and other open flames outside of developed recreation areas in the Daniel Boone National Forest is now lifted. The ban was issued last month due to drought conditions across the forest.
Three new studies have added more scientific evidence to support ill health effects from mountaintop removal coal mining. Over the past few years, several studies have presented evidence supporting links between health problems—like cancer and birth defects—that are more prevalent in communities with mountaintop removal mines. But these new studies attempt to pinpoint specific pollutants that could be causing those health problems.
WINCHESTER – Due to recent rainfall, the ban prohibiting campfires and other open flames outside of developed recreation areas in the Daniel Boone National Forest is now lifted. The ban was issued last month due to drought conditions across the forest. “We urge forest visitors to continue using caution with fire,” Deputy Forest Supervisor Bill Lorenz said in a news release on the organization's website.
Snake bites are on the rise in Kentucky. The copperhead snake is responsible for nearly two dozen poisonous snake bites this year, according to James Harrison, director of the Kentucky Reptile Zoo. Harrison blames the increase on weather conditions.
On account of the recent drought, the federal government is offering low-interest loans to farmers in Christian, Todd and Trigg counties who need help recovering from losses in crops. These counties and 23 others in Kentucky received the designation of “natural disaster area," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Kentucky is among 30 states that will receive federal funds to boost monitoring for a deadly bat disease. Biologists from the state have already been working to document the spread ofWhite Nose Syndrome, which is a deadly fungus that nearly always kills the bats it infects. U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Ann Froschauer says the additional federal funds will augment that effort.
Despite scattered thunderstorms during the past week, parts of Indiana and Kentucky remain in a drought. That condition is hitting corn and soybean farmers particularly hard. Half of Indiana’s and nearly half of Kentucky’s corn crop are in jeopardy, rated as “poor” or “very poor” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt says once a crop is rated “very poor,” there’s not much that can be salvaged.
A lawyer has responded to two California representatives on behalf of three Kentucky mine operators. In June, Congressmen George Miller and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey sent a letter to Jack Ealy and Ralph Napier, the president and vice president of K and D Mining, as well as John North of Jackrock, LLC. They wanted the mine operators to submit a plan to pay the $1.568 million currently owed to the federal government for mine safety violations.
Lexington's temperature hit 99 degrees by mid-afternoon Wednesday, making it officially the city's hottest Fourth of July on record, said Chris Bailey, chief meteorologist for WKYT-TV. The old record of 98 was set in 1911, he said. "It's crazy. It just won't end," Bailey said after he participated in the annual downtown parade. Unfortunately, his comments weren't just hyperbole: "It's going to be close to 100 the next couple of days, with small threats of showers."
As dry conditions persist throughout the state, Kentucky Emergency Management is encouraging local officials to plan possible water conservation efforts. Sixty-six Kentucky counties have been classified as experiencing level 1 drought while 24 are under the more severe level 2 drought designation. Level 2 drought has been declared in Christian, Todd, Trigg, Caldwell and Muhlenberg counties.
Trees across the region are drooping from lack of rain; produce farmers are watching their crops shrivel; and horse farms are taking steps to protect their priceless Thoroughbreds as hot, dry weather continues to scorch Central Kentucky. "I see trees that are already losing their leaves; trees that are dry as toast; trees that are dying," said Lexington arborist Dave Leonard. "It's probably the worst situation I've ever seen this early in the season, and that's going back 40 years.
The heatwave gripping Kentucky will continue at least through Wednesday, the National Weather Service office in Louisville says. Bowling Green is predicted to hit 102 degrees Monday and Louisville will see 99 degrees. The mercury will stop at 97 in Frankfort and Lexington, the weather service said.
Lexington sounded like a war zone last year well past midnight for days on end, but this year there could be more at stake from fireworks than sleepless nights and scared pets. Police, fire and city officials will meet Monday morning to decide whether fireworks will become prohibited under a citywide burn ban that was put in place last week, Lexington fire department Battalion Chief Ed Davis said. A drought in the area, and across much of the nation, has left lawns brown and dry, leading to a spike of nuisance fires caused by cigarette butts and concern from officials that fireworks could make the situation worse.
Sixty-four Kentucky counties have implemented burn bans because of the extreme heat and dry conditions in much of the state. The list of counties with bans was at 33 early Thursday morning but then increased to 51 in early afternoon and hit 61 just before 5 p.m. Three more counties banned burning since.
Frankfort – The state has issued a Level 2 drought declaration for 24 counties in western Kentucky and a Level 1 drought for 66 counties in the remainder of the state. A Level 2 drought indicates severe drought conditions have developed, according to a state news release. Counties with this designation can expect severe impacts to water-sensitive enterprises, depletion of water supplies in shallow wells, springs and ponds, increased incidences of wildfires, higher demands placed on water treatment facilities and the imposition of water conservation advisories.
FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear Wednesday signed an executive order directing the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to expedite the transport of emergency supplies to Kentucky counties struggling with drought. Ninety counties – 75 percent of the state’s counties – are classified as suffering moderate to severe drought conditions.
A federal court of appeals has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency can regulate carbon emissions from vehicles and power plants. A coalition of energy companies, manufacturers and individual states—including Kentucky and Indiana—challenged the rules in court. They argued that a core provision—the finding that greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide are pollutants and pose a danger to human health—wasn’t based on science.
You can sum up this week's Kentucky weather like this: It's hot and about to get hotter; it's dry and about to get drier. The National Weather Services says that while Tuesday will be pleasant in Lexington, with a high around 79, temperatures will skyrocket later this week, hitting the high 90s by Friday. Meanwhile, there's little chance of rain.
A new study shows that black lung disease isn’t limited to coal miners who work underground. Studies for coal workers’ pneumoconiosis—or black lung disease—haven’t been done on surface miners in a decade, and the miners were commonly thought to be less at risk for the disease than underground workers. Surface mines are open to the air, after all, and underground coal mines have frequent dust issues caused by mining in constricted spaces without much ventilation. But the new study shows that surface miners get black lung, too.