A federal court has delayed an air pollution rule that was scheduled to go into effect Sunday. The Cross-State Air Pollution rule would put limits on the amount of pollution some power plants can put out, because the emissions often blow across state lines. It applies to 28 states—including Kentucky.
Two groups with a history of environmental activism have taken aim at an Eastern Kentucky coal mine with a lawsuit asking that a court declare the coal mine is in violation of the Clean Water Act. In addition, the lawsuit, filed by the Sierra Club and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, asks that the court force Laurel Mountain Resources to install treatment facilities, pay civil penalties and conduct monitoring and sampling to prevent pollution at its Johnson County mine.
New energy standards for light bulbs take effect this year. The new standards don’t mean that the old incandescent light bulbs won’t be sold anymore. But they do say the old bulbs have to be more efficient. The rules go into effect for 100 watt bulbs first, and will require a bulb that puts out the same amount of light to only use 72 watts of power. Or, consumers can use compact florescent bulbs.
Enjoy the warmer-than-normal temperatures as 2011 closes out this week with daytime highs in the 50s. The mild weather won’t last beyond New Year’s Day Sunday. Winter’s chill will return in earnest early next week as the daytime mercury struggles to crack the 30s on Monday. There also will be a slight chance for snow showers. By Tuesday afternoon, the thermostat will hover in the upper 20s.
Environmental groups have filed an appeal and a lawsuit, both targeting coal mines in Kentucky. The Sierra Club and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth are appealing the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection’s decision to issue a Clean Water Act permit for the Beech Fork Processing Plant in Lovely in Johnson County.
Part of a health care complez at a central Kentucky hospital will rely on solar power. Administrators say Rockcastle Regional Hospital is the first hospital in Kentucky to use the sun as an energy source. The Rockcastle county hospital went on-line with its solar array a few weeks ago. 210 solar modules are positioned on top of the hospital’s Outpatient Services Center. These units produce enough energy annually to power eight to ten homes. Rockcastle Regional Hospital C-E-O Steve Estes says the solar panels essentially power the third floor of the Outpatient facility.
A Fayette County landfill, opened in the 1970’s, closes Friday. Since 1995, Lexington’s Haley Pike landfill has only accepted construction and demolition debris. Now, the facility is filled to capacity. Mark York, with Lexington’s Division of Environmental Policy, says the closure primarily affects the construction industry.
Officials from local, state, and federal agencies are watching over the cleanup of a mercury spill at Eastern Kentucky University. Last Thursday, mercury leaked from a broken barometer inside the Moore Science building. The incident occurred as equipment was moved into E-K-U’s new science facility. Some contamination was detected in both structures. E-K-U spokesman Marc Whitt says the all clear could come this week at the new science building.
Come next spring, a voluntary strategy to reduce overall power consumption in Lexington could be put before government leaders. A diverse team of environmentalists, business, agriculture, and government officials has worked on the Empower Lexington plan for about two years. Tom Webb, who’s an environmental manager, says the initiatives would affect public, private, and commercial sectors.
A new study published in a scientific journal shows the long-lasting effects mountaintop removal coal mining can have on a watershed. The study was conducted by a team from Duke University and published in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a respected peer-reviewed journal. In it, researchers studied the effects multiple surface mining operations have on the Mud River watershed in West Virginia.
Across the country, power plant operators are figuring out how they’ll comply with the Obama Administration’s upcoming rules to reduce air pollution. In Louisville, the utility company has announced plans to convert one of its older power plants from coal to natural gas. But at the Big Sandy plant in eastern Kentucky, another company says it’ll still be less expensive to keep burning coal.
The U.S. House and Senate are working to reach a compromise on spending bills to keep the government functioning. Several measures weakening environmental laws are being considered as riders to the legislation. The deadline to pass the spending bills is Monday, and neither Republicans nor Democrats want to be responsible for shutting the government down.
The former CEO of Massey Energy could be planning a coal mining operation in Kentucky, despite a history of disregard for mine safety laws. Don Blankenship filed papers with the Kentucky Secretary of State in January to incorporate a new coal company: McCoy Coal Group. Blankenship was in charge during last year’s deadly explosion at the Massey-owned Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia. That was the catalyst that drew nationwide attention to his company’s poor safety record, and to Blankenship, a cartoonish CEO who was known to intimidate mine inspectors and force miners to focus on production over safety.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky has assigned a special designation to a four-mile stretch of the Ohio River in Western Kentucky because scientists have found an endangered mussel species in the area. The mussel’s scientific name is Potamilus capax, but it’s commonly referred to as the “fat pocketbook” mussel because it resembles, well, a mussel-shaped purse.
Devastating floods have ravaged several eastern Kentucky communities in the last few years. Most start the same way: rain falls; creeks rise; and what residents have described as a ‘tsunami’ destroys everything in its path. Some citizens say coal mining is to blame, and they’re turning to lawsuits against coal companies to recoup damages. They say the companies didn’t reclaim surface mine sites, which directly contributed to the flooding.
About 6,400 gallons of ethyl alcohol spilled from the back of a Heaven Hill Distilleries facility off KY 49, Loretto Road, Saturday afternoon. Roughly a tanker truck’s worth of 180-proof, potable alcohol, used for blending at Heaven Hill, poured into a nearby creek and lake as firefighters, state environmental regulators and the Nelson County Emergency Management Agency were called to the scene. The accident occurred as a tanker truck was transferring the alcohol into a tank behind the distillery’s main bottling building.
The Environmental Protection Agency has unveiled a new version of a rule that would regulate air pollution from industrial boilers, which burn a wide range of fuels. The more flexible rule has angered environmental groups, while industry is cautiously optimistic.
With property owners in Lexington paying the bills, city officials are fighting to keep the cost of a half-billion dollars in sanitary sewer improvements under control. Lexington residents first saw fees levied on their sanitary sewers in the mid 1980’s. They’ve increased over the years,..most recently, in 2009 and again in 2010. Division of Water Quality Director Charlie Martin suspects it’s just a beginning and more rate increases are likely over the dozen years it will take to upgrade Lexington’s sanitary sewers.
Judges are considering a coal company’s appeal of a state decision that places restrictions on surface mining in an area of Floyd County. The case was heard by the Franklin County Court of Appeals ten days ago. Several years ago, Beverly May spearheaded a petition asking the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet to declare the area around Wilson Creek in Floyd County unsuitable for mining. The petition was denied, but Cabinet Secretary Len Peters put certain restrictions on mining in the area.
A Northpoint Training Center inmate suffered minor injuries Tuesday when he was exposed to a discarded meth lab while picking up trash along Hogue Hollow Road in southern Boyle County. Deputy Sheriff Jody Adams said the inmate, who was not identified, may have inhaled some chemical residue when the bottom of a bag he was collecting broke open and spilled materials and ingredients used to make methamphetamine.
In anticipation of growth in the biomass industry, the Kentucky Division of Forestry has released guidelines for biomass harvesting. The document lays out suggestions for harvesting the material in a sustainable way that will have minimal effect on the forest.
Officials from the Department of the Interior are taking criticism over a proposal to merge the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement with the Bureau of Land Management. Regulators were in a Senate committee hearing today over the issue, but Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky took the opportunity to bring up another topic: stream protection in Appalachia.
An order beginning the merger of the federal department that regulates surface mining with the Bureau of Land Management is set to take effect in two weeks. The consolidation was the subject of a hearing today before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Thanks to some grant money from Frankfort, seven illegal dumps in Breathitt County will be cleaned up. That's because almost $2.1 million were released by the state Monday to the county's Solid Waste organization, as well as 28 other counties in Kentucky. Breathitt's total from the Kentucky Pride Fund comes to $33,916.80. The seven dumps in Breathitt County are part of 171 illegal dumps statewide that will be affected.
FRANKFORT – Kentucky's first sandhill crane hunting season will open soon, and hunters may begin applying for permits Tuesday, Nov. 15 through Nov. 30. The drawing is scheduled for Dec. 5. Applications are only available online at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources website, www.fw.ky.gov. Each application costs $3 and a hunter may only apply once.
Kentucky is in compliance with the country’s National Ambient Air Quality Standard for lead, which was updated three years ago, and is stricter than it used to be. Lead is emitted mostly from facilities that manufacture products like batteries and aluminum. John Gowins with the Division of Air Quality says it’s significant that Kentucky is in compliance, because the Environmental Protection Agency recently enacted much stronger standards.
All four public schools in Butler County have achieved Energy Star awards, making it the first district in Kentucky to be recognized for each of its schools. Energy Star is the Environmental Protection Agency’s symbol for superior energy efficiency.
The Kentucky Division of Forestry has reportedly been battling forest fires in Harlan County since Friday. A good size forest fire became a problem Sunday night in the Dressen area. The Sunshine Volunteer Fire Department and Harlan County Sheriff’s Office deputies were sent to the scene to assist after houses were reportedly in danger. The firefighters secured the safety of the houses on the ground and foresters were busy containing the flames on the mountainside.