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.
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.