The Environmental Protection Agency is in Frankfort today for a hearing on mining permits. The agency is here to take public comments on 36 specific water permits—which coal mines need in order to discharge waste into streams and other waterways. The EPA has objected to all of the permits, saying the Kentucky Division of Water didn’t provide a complete analysis of the potential damage the discharge could cause.
The weather roller coaster for Western Kentucky between 2011's record-settling rainfall in the early part of the year and this year's drought-like conditions for the same period is proving to be no fun at all. After widespread flooding during the spring of 2011, drought has crept into western Kentucky in 2012. While some areas received much needed rain as May turned to June, other areas saw only enough to settle the dust.
The Environmental Protection Agency is in Kentucky this week for two hearings on mining permits. The state’s Division of Water issues permits to coal mines to discharge into waterways, but the EPA has the authority to review the permits. Over the past two years, the EPA has objected to 36 Kentucky permits. In its objection letters, the agency lays out the problems with the permits. The main problem, the EPA says, is that Kentucky didn’t provide a complete analysis of the potential damage the discharge could cause to waterways.
A federal judge has given the Environmental Protection Agency one week to set standards for fine particle pollution across the United States. These are the fine particles that come out of factories, power plants and automobiles. Paul Cort is an attorney for nonprofit Earthjustice. He argued the case.
American Electric Power may have changed its mind about the future of the coal-fired Big Sandy Power Plant in Eastern Kentucky. The company has an application pending with the Kentucky Public Service Commission to install pollution controls at the plant to continue burning coal. But WFPL has learned that AEP filed to withdraw the application today.
The Environmental Protection Agency has concerns about the environmental impact of a 218-acre coal ash landfill in Trimble County proposed by Louisville Gas and Electric. LG&E is asking for permission to construct the landfill near its Trimble County power plant. If it’s permitted, the site will store coal ash—the waste that’s leftover after coal is burned. The company currently stores the Trimble County plant’s ash in an impoundment pond, but the pond is getting full and the company needs to find somewhere else to store the ash.
Activists from Greenpeace unfurled a banner on the Yum Brand headquarters on Gardiner Lane early this morning, in a move they say is meant to protest the company’s paper supplier. The banner has a picture of a Sumatran tiger. It says “KFC, stop trashing my home.” Louisville Metro Police spokesman Dwight Mitchell says four of the protesters were cited with criminal mischief and trespassing, and the remaining five were cited for trespassing. None were taken into custody.
Key agreements with the federal government and energy suppliers will allow the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant to stay open for another year. The plant processes uranium for use in nuclear power plants. Under the new agreement, the plant has federal approval to re-enrich depleted uranium for the Tennessee Valley Authority and Energy Northwest. The United States Enrichment Corporation, the plant’s operator, previously said allowing re-enrichment at the plant was necessary to turn a profit.
The federal government has released its short-term energy outlook, and the news isn’t good for coal. This time last year, about 44 percent of America’s electricity was generated from coal. Now, that share has fallen to 36 percent. The news was predictably rosy for natural gas: low prices and increased environmental controls on coal mean more plants are burning gas, and natural gas has continued to expand its generation share.
Dying ash trees on McGarry Dr. in Lexington. The emerald ash borer is killing many untreated ash trees in Lexington.
Credit Charles Bertram/Lexington Herald-Leader
The emerald ash borer has killed many ash trees since appearing in Kentucky in 2009, but arborists fear this could be the year when the voracious beetle really sinks its teeth into some of Lexington's most beautiful ash trees. Fortunately, even trees infested with ash borers can be saved if treated with chemical agents, said John Saylor, arborist-technician with the Urban County Division of Environmental Policy.
Thunderstorms could move into central and southern Kentucky this afternoon and evening. The storms - with damaging winds, heavy rainfall, hail and frequent cloud to ground lighting - could be created when a cold front combines with an already moist atmosphere, according to the National Weather Service. Showers and storms will linger over the Lake Cumberland and Bluegrass regions of the state Tuesday but severe weather is not expected.
The Kentucky Public Service Commission Thursday approved a proposal by Kentucky Utilities Co. and Louisville Gas & Electric Co. to construct a natural gas-fired generating facility at LG&E’s Cane Run plant in Jefferson County and to purchase an existing natural gas-fired plant in Oldham County. KU and LG&E plan to construct a 640-megawatt combined cycle generating plant at Cane Run. Combined cycle plants are designed to operate most of the time.
Two insects continue to plague Ash and Hemlock trees across Kentucky. The fight focuses on the Emerald Ash Borer and the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. State Forester Leah MacSwords says these bugs were likely transported from abroad into the U-S. McSwords says they’re now looking for a bug that will eat those insects now damaging Ash and Hemlock trees.
The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled environmental groups and citizens may intervene in a lawsuit against a coal mining company. The Supreme Court’s ruling upholds Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd’s decision to let environmental groups intervene in the case. The groups—which include Appalachian Voices and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth—wanted a voice in the case, because they oppose a settlement reached between the state and Frasure Creek Mining for violations of the Clean Water Act in eastern Kentucky.
Rosa Parks Elementary School in Lexington was one of three Kentucky schools awarded the federal Green Ribbon designation for its work on sustainability issues this week. But a trend toward environmental awareness is gathering momentum in schools across the county. When it comes to green issues, Rosa Parks Elementary is leading the way. Tresine Logsdon, Energy and Sustainability Curriculum Coordinator for Fayette County Public Schools, says earning a green ribbon takes a multifaceted approach.
On paper, Kentucky has a ban on nuclear power plants. That’s still the case. But a new law opens up new ways for nuclear energy to be used in the Commonwealth. One of the things House Bill 559 allows is the re-enrichment of depleted uranium tails. But the legislation doesn’t go very far to help the one facility in the state that has been waiting for federal approval to re-enrich uranium tools.
The U.S. Defense Department said Tuesday that it will take another $2 billion and another two years to rid Kentucky and Colorado of their stockpiles of chemical weapons. But the director a Berea-based watchdog group said he is confident that the nerve and blister agents at Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County can be destroyed before 2023, which is the revised completion date for their destruction. The previous completion date was 2021.
Phillip Stokely was just a boy in 1972, when his father's house in Clark County was damaged by construction of a crude-oil pipeline through the north edge of the property. Now, 40 years later, Stokely owns the house, and he's afraid the same thing will happen all over again. Marathon Petroleum is replacing parts of the pipeline, and it wants to route a new section of pipe past the south end of Stokely's home. The company's plan would have put the edge of the pipeline right-of-way only about 15 feet from the house's foundation. Marathon recently agreed to move the right-of-way back to about 70 feet from the house. Stokely doesn't like it but says he can probably live with it.
A large sunken area behind Madison County’s Glen Marshall Elementary school is undergoing a conversion. It allows school children to explore their own wetlands area. The soft soil in the deep pit like area behind the school is becoming a home for new plants and hopefully crawling animals. Stephen Richter is a biological science professor at Eastern Kentucky University. Richter says studies show being outside helps kids learn.
Thousands of trees of all shapes and sizes on Eastern Kentucky University’s 912 acre Richmond campus helped earn the school a Tree Campus U-S-A designation. The national program, which was launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation, honors colleges and universities that nurture trees and engage students in conservation efforts. E-K-U biology professor David Brown says trees are well tended to at the university.
Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit intended to force the federal government into finalizing rules governing the disposal of coal ash. Coal ash is the byproduct of burning coal for electricity, and it is stored at both the Cane Run and Mill Creek power plants in Jefferson County. It’s regulated at a state level, but there aren’t any uniform federal regulations for the ash.
From Berea to Lexington, the newest buzz word at city hall is “sustainability.” Essentially promoters say we should have a lifestyle that doesn’t exhaust the earth’s resources. And, local leaders are increasingly asked to promote a sustainable lifestyle.. Late this winter, city leaders received a report called, ‘Empower Lexington.’ Its authors seek to reduce the city’s energy consumption by one percent annually. Their reactions were mixed and reflected the national debate over the environment, climate change and energy independence.
The Metropolitan Sewer District has reported a release of 2.5 million gallons of untreated sewage into the Ohio River. The cause was an electrical malfunction yesterday morning. Most of the sewage from homes and businesses in the Beargrass Creek watershed goes to the seven-year-old Starkey Pump Station in Butchertown, which sends sewage to the Morris Forman Treatment Plant. The problem began at Starkey.
A new agreement between the federal government and environmental groups will put limits on some power plants that blow pollution into Kentucky. The move is designed to reduce haze and air pollution at many of the country’s oldest national parks, including Mammoth Cave. Power plants and factories in nearby Illinois, Indiana and Ohio are all affected by the consent decree, which was issued by a district court judge late last week. The agreement sets deadlines for those states—as well as 34 others—to reduce the air pollution that causes haze in national parks.
Until Lexington’s federally mandated overhaul of its sewer system is complete, city crews must apply band-aids when leaks are uncovered. This week, crews are sealing a raw sewage leak near the intersection of Star Shoot Parkway and Liberty Road. Mark York is with the city’s Division of Environmental Policy. “This section of the old force main is in operation because it continues to serve four smaller pump stations…and our plans are in the coming couple of years…to actually permanently abandon those pump stations..so we will also abandon this old sewer force main as well,” said York.
The federal government has unveiled air quality standards that will affect new coal-fired power plants. The new EPA rules mark the first time carbon dioxide emissions from all new power plants will be limited. This doesn’t mean there won’t be any new coal-fired power plants built in the U.S., but it does mean that any company that wants to build one will have to install advanced carbon control technologies, like carbon capture and sequestration. Plants will have a limit of 1,000 pounds of carbon pollution per megawatt hour.
A peach tree is in bloom at the Kentucky State University Research Farm. According to Adam Watson with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, fruit trees are typically at the mercy of the weather.
Credit Tricia Spaulding/The State-Journal
This year’s unusually warm weather has brought some concerns to farmers and horticulturalists on whether the summer-like start to spring will affect the commonwealth’s abundance of spring flowers and crops. The media reported that Churchill Downs horticulture director Matt Bizzell said the warm winter means the track’s tulips will bloom about two weeks too early for the first Saturday in May, meaning derby goers won’t see the 6,000 to 12,000 tulips typically blooming at the track during Derby Week.
Twelve states have joined a lawsuit defending a new rule from the Environmental Protection Agency that will limit mercury and other toxic air emissions. But Kentucky is not among those joining the suit. The EPA’s rule was finalized in February. Almost immediately, the National Mining Association challenged the rule in the D.C. Court of Appeals. In the past week, twelve states, the District of Columbia and New York City have filed to intervene in the case. They join several environmental groups in defending the EPA’s ruling.
Of the 41 entities named “Energy Star Partners of the Year” by the federal government, four are from Kentucky. The Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Kentucky Housing Corporation, Louisville Gas and Electric and the U of L’s Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center were all honored this year for energy savings. This is the second consecutive year that the KPPC, at the Speed School of Engineering, has won the award. The center helps businesses, organizations and industries save money by improving energy efficiency.
There will be a different atmosphere surrounding the 14th annual Commonwealth Cleanup Week when it begins this Saturday. The roadside clean-up recruits volunteers, who fill trash bags and remove old tires. Ricki Gardenhire with the Energy and Environment Cabinet says many volunteers will be motivated by the March 2nd tornadoes.