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.
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.
A winter weather advisory remains in effect for Central Kentucky until 10 a.m. Monday. The region saw snow accumulations of 2 to 4 inches overnight, with higher amounts in some areas. The snow and ice caused schools to be closed for the day in many communities. The heaviest snow accumulations were along and north of I-64.
In southern Indiana, emergency workers are turning their attention toward clean-up after tornadoes slammed parts of three counties on Friday. In the Clark County town of Henryville the job is unimaginably huge. On the road to Henryville, you pass semi trucks and school buses turned over. A gas station is totally obliterated. And downtown, things aren’t any better. Houses and businesses were destroyed by last week’s tornado, and the Henryville combined elementary, junior and senior high school is in ruins.
Since 2006, White Nose Syndrome has been decimating bat populations east of the Mississippi. Last year, the fungal disease was first found in Trigg County—in the southwest part of the state—and last month it was found in nearby Breckinridge County. Earlier this week, state biologists explored a cave in Meade County, looking to see if the disease has spread.
Herrington Lake is about to have a little taken off the top. Kentucky Utilities spokesman Cliff Feltham said most people who live on or around the lake are accustomed to watching the water level rise and fall due to KU’s manipulations. This time, 5 feet need to go to restore the lake to the preferred “winter pool” level. Herrington Lake covers 36,000 acres with coves and fingers reaching into Garrard, Mercer and Boyle counties. The lake was created as the result of a KU project in the 1920s when the utility dammed the Dix River for hydroelectric power.
Reports of damage have started to come in after a series of storms moved through Kentucky Wednesday, after causing extensive damage and several deaths in Illinois and Missouri earlier in the day. From Morgan County to Russell County, multiple tornadoes appear to have touched down in Kentucky. Officials in West Liberty reported several buildings damaged, the most serious a carpet store, which suffered extensive structural damage.
The severe thunderstorm system responsible for tornado damage in Illinois and Missouri overnight moved into Western and Central Kentucky today causing damage in several locations. In Muhlenberg County, there was a report of damage to a middle school roof. No students were hurt. In Greenville, the electricity was knocked out. Trees and power lines were downed.
You won't need a coat to keep you warm the next few days, with highs in the 50s and 60s. But thunderstorms are on the way. After a frosty morning, today's high temperature will warm to a mild, spring-like 55 degrees under a mostly sunny sky. Tonight, thunderstorms with high winds and soaking rains will set in with a low only around 47 degrees.
Louisville Gas and Electric is meeting resistance from residents and the state Division of Waste Management over a proposed coal ash landfill near its Trimble County power station. The company already stores ash—which is the waste that’s leftover after coal is burned—in landfills and ponds at its Mill Creek and Cane Run power plants in Louisville. It has an ash pond at Trimble County, but the pond is almost full.
Thursday's spring-like temperatures in the 60s could also bring spring-like thunderstorms and tornadoes - particularly along the state's Interstate 64 corridor. It will be windy Thursday across most of Kentucky with guests of 20 to 30 mph possible. The culprit is an area of low pressure approaching from the west. Thunderstorms are possible.
The number of Eastern Kentuckians without power continued to shrink Tuesday, as Kentucky Power worked to resolve the outages. As of 9 p.m. Tuesday, nearly 10,700 Kentucky Power customers did not have electricity, down from a peak of about 34,000 who had been left in the dark Monday afternoon. A weekend snow storm dumped six to eight inches on parts of southeastern Kentucky, causing downed power lines and fallen tree limbs.
The federal government has filed charges against a former Massey Energy mine superintendent. Gary May worked at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia in April 2010, when an explosion killed 29 coal miners. May is charged with felony conspiracy. According to the charges filed today in West Virginia, May is accused to tampering with methane detectors, covering up mine safety violations and falsifying records. May is the second Upper Big Branch employee to face federal charges. The first, former security chief Hughie Stover, set to be sentenced next week.
A conservation group is urging the Environmental Protection Agency to tighten its air quality regulations on power plants to protect such places as Mammoth Cave National Park. The National Parks Conservation Association said the EPA’s plans to exempt certain older coal plants – including Western Kentucky Energy’s plant near Henderson – from installing the “Best Available Retrofit Technology” would be harmful for the park.
An appeals court has struck down a rule that state regulators used to restrict surface mining in a Floyd County watershed where some residents fought to block coal companies from stripping the hills. The regulation had been put in place so the state could impose additional safeguards rather than ban mining altogether, said Tom FitzGerald, head of the Kentucky Resources Council. The three-judge panel of the Kentucky Court of Appeals said the regulation made state law more stringent than federal mining rules. That is barred under a separate state law.