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.
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.