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.
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.
Mosquitoes are out for blood in Central Kentucky earlier and in mightier form this summer. While some experts are predicting this summer to be one of the worst for mosquitoes in decades, Grayson Brown, professor of entomology at the University of Kentucky, said there's no way of knowing until summer is in full swing. The life span of a mosquito is relatively short, a few months at most, but mosquitoes have been building up their numbers since March and will be noticeable in the upcoming months.
The wheat harvest began as much as two weeks early this year in southcentral Kentucky because of early warm temperatures. But those warm temperatures, and then a brief cold snap, have wreaked havoc on the crop’s yield, which some farmers say has been cut nearly in half.
Three Kentucky coal-fired power plants are named among the biggest polluters in the nation in a new report. The Environmental Integrity Project analyzed the fifty-one U.S. power plants that emit the highest levels of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, which have been linked to premature deaths from heart and lung disease. The report concludes that at several power plants—including the Green River, Shawnee and Mill Creek plants in Kentucky—the cost of lost human life outweighs the value of electricity the plant produces.
Mining companies buried sections of streams in Eastern Kentucky without getting proper permits, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.The companies should restore the sites or pay for mitigation projects elsewhere, or both, the agency said in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in Pikeville Wednesday.The EPA suit also seeks damages that could, in theory, run into the millions of dollars.
A common misconception about coal in America is that it accounts for most of the nation’s electricity generation. Coal’s importance to the nation’s energy mix is indisputable. But that influence is on the decline, and is dropping fast. Even so, the new data has yet to be embraced by politicians intent on reinforcing Kentucky’s coal industry. Here’s Western Kentucky state Representative Brent Yonts at a recent public hearing in Frankfort.
A piece of land on the far end of Eastern Kentucky University’s Richmond campus may become a new home for native plants and animals. It’s becoming an outdoor classroom for EKU students….It’s a beaten down grassy path which winds behind EKU’s law enforcement complex and onto the Taylor Fork Ecological Project site. Just inside the large gate, the landscape changes. The land is clear with room for a picnic table. A sign outlines an interpretive trail, and there’s a boot scrubber. David Brown is a Biology Sciences professor at Eastern. “A lot of natural areas have something that so that when you enter it, you scrape your feet and if you’re carrying seeds or burrs or whatever, you leave them behind,” said Brown.
The Environmental Protection Agency is weighing public comments and considering whether to cement its objections to 36 Kentucky coal mine permits. The agency heard from both the coal industry and environmental activists in a hearing in Frankfort on Tuesday.
As the Environmental Protection Agency begins its public forums on coal mining permits in Kentucky, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell is rallying for coal to be a bigger part of the nation's energy portfolio. McConnell has consistently criticized the EPA for its regulatory stances, saying they are harmful to Kentucky’s mining and agriculture industries. And he doubled down on that stance in remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday.
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.