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.
Central Kentucky missed out on a winter storm that slammed parts of southern and Eastern Kentucky, knocking out power for more than 20,000 customers. Meteorologist Chris Bailey said there were reports of 4 to 6 inches of snow, and totals probably would reach 8 inches in many areas. State police warned motorists in parts of southern Kentucky to limit travel because roads were covered with snow and ice.
An approaching storm will apparently only deliver a glancing blow to Central Kentucky on Sunday while dumping up to several inches of snow over Eastern Kentucky.The National Weather Service office in Jackson has issued a winter storm warning through 9 p.m. Sunday for Eastern Kentucky. Snow will be heavy at times and mixed with sleet during the middle part of the day, the NWS said. Two to 4 inches of snow will fall in the valleys and 3 to 5 inches on higher elevations. And amounts of up to 6 inches are possible in some areas.
The Environmental Protection’s Agency’s new air toxics rule is officially on the books. The new rule, which will require power plants to drastically reduce emissions of heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, chromium and nickel, was published in the federal register today. This starts the clock for compliance. No existing power plant will have to meet the standards until April 16, 2015. For facilities that need extra time, the EPA has indicated it will grant extensions up to 2017.
After multiple letters from Kentucky politicians, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu has agreed to meet and discuss what should be done with nuclear waste sitting at a Paducah facility. In a letter sent Tuesday from Chu to U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., Chu states he is “welcome to the opportunity” to talk about the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant and its expansive stores of depleted uranium “tails.”
Forestry officials are cautioning the public that above-average rain this winter does not necessarily mean a low-risk wildfire season. So far this year, over 50 fires have burned nearly 1,500 acres in Kentucky. According to Kentucky Division of Forestry records, these numbers are higher than normal for this time of year. “Although some predictions show a lower fire potential for Kentucky this spring, we don’t want the public to get lulled into a false sense of security,” said Leah MacSwords, KDF director and state forester, said in a statement from her office.
Several national business organizations are asking the White House to finalize controversial greenhouse gas regulations. The groups—which include the American Sustainable Business Council, the Main Street Alliance, Ceres, the Small Business Majority and Environmental Entrepreneurs—sent a letter to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget yesterday. They represent small businesses, some of which deal with the environment, energy or sustainability.
A candlelit dinner on Valentine’s Day seem to go together. Two environmental organizations are using that tradition to deliver a message on energy conservation. On the 14th, Bluegrass Pride spokeswoman Lauren Bennett says candle power will be the primary source of lighting at two Lexington restaurants.
Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett said eastern Kentucky coalfields are being held to a higher standard than others in the state. Bissett said he believed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates Appalachian coal mining under a different set of regulations than other coal fields.
U.S. House Republicans are again attacking new environmental regulations that limit the amount of mercury and other pollution power plants can emit. The new rules were finalized in December, and were the subject of a House subcommittee meeting today. The hearing, led by Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield, essentially can be summarized like this: Republicans question all of the data released by the Environmental Protection Agency, including the cost of the regulations and their effect on the economy.
A tanker truck carrying explosive agents crashed into a Pike County creek this week, prompting an evacuation of nearby residents. According to Kentucky State Police Officer Jamie Fields, no one was injured Monday when the tanker truck, driven by Karl Ashley and operated by Kentucky Powder Company, crashed off of Little Robinson Creek Road and came to rest on its side in the creek. The crash caused the truck to spill about a third of its load of a powdery mix of ammonium nitrate and diesel fuel — an agent commonly used in blasting at mining and construction sites.
A multistate earthquake drill will have at least 400,000 people in Kentucky dropping to their knees, finding cover and holding on Tuesday morning. The one-minute exercise is part of the second annual Great Central U.S. Shake Out, which is planned for 10:15 CST Tuesday. In Hopkins County, the Emergency Management Agency will test its radio communication with state offices in Frankfort and keep a watchful eye on the earthquake walk-through conducted by area schools, said Frank Wright, EMA director.
Three House Republicans, including Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield are trying something new when it comes to opposing the Obama Administration’s environmental regulations: they’re asking the White House to stop. Whitfield and two of his fellow Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget asking the director to delay upcoming rules regulating greenhouse gases. The OMB has been reviewing the draft rules for several months and they’re scheduled to be released soon.
February has been proclaimed as Earthquake Awareness month as Kentucky continues to prepare for the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut Earthquake Drill, scheduled for Feb. 7. The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut in February 2012 will involve more than 1 million people through a broad‐based outreach program, partnerships with the media and public advocacy, according to a state press release.
Heavy rain will soak Northern Kentucky and the rest of the Bluegrass state Wednesday night and all day Thursday, leading to minor flooding on streets and at rivers and streams, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio. The ground already is saturated from recent downpours and record rainfall that doused the region last year. A flood watch might be issued Wednesday afternoon.
The federal government is predicting a decline for Appalachian coal over the next two decades. The Energy Information Administration’s annual energy outlook was released today.The EIA is projecting that by 2035, coal will only make up 39 percent of the nation’s overall electricity generation.
As it stands now, destruction of aging chemical munitions stored at the Bluegrass Army Depot is scheduled to begin in 2017. But, the timeline could still change. The storing and disposal of chemical agents has been debated in central Kentucky for decades. The deadline for ridding the Bluegrass Army Depot of nerve and mustard agents has been pushed back more than once. Jeff Brubaker, manager of the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Plant project, says cost increases for the disposal program were noted in late 2010 and that prompted a six month review.
The state on Thursday launched a public website that tracks real-time savings resulting from the Commonwealth Energy Management and Control System’s pilot project. The pilot project is a cost-saving action of the Governor’s ongoing Smart Government Initiative.
The Environmental Protection Agency has released a tool to help the public pinpoint the sources of greenhouse gas emissions. People have long been able to track the toxic chemicals released in their neighborhoods through the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory. But now that the agency can collect data on greenhouse gas emissions, the newest tool provides even more information.
There are 750 so-called “package treatment plants” in Kentucky, each treating between 5,000 and 50,000 gallons of wastewater every day. Larger areas—like Louisville—have been phasing out the smaller plants, which are prone to failure. But that solution is out of reach for some smaller communities, and for the past few years one area in Bullitt County has been plagued by sewage releases from a nearby plant. The most recent one was last weekend.