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.
Portions of the forest fire at Dressen can be seen here.
Credit Harlan Daily Enterprise
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.
Kentucky utilities may soon need to comply with tighter air regulations. Republican Senator Rand Paul Thursday failed in his effort to defeat new clean air standards. The Environmental Protection Agency says coal fired power plants in Kentucky and twenty six other states spread particulates that cause asthma and premature deaths. Senator Paul attempted to block the EPA implementation of new clean air standards but his effort was defeated 41 – 56. Six fellow Republicans opposed the measure.
Kentucky Republican Rand Paul is forcing the Senate to vote today to block new pollution regulations from going into effect on the East Coast. The Environmental Protection Agency says particles from Kentucky’s coal fired power plants are spreading illnesses in neighboring states and even causing deaths. To combat the cross-border pollution the EPA is forcing twenty seven eastern states, including Kentucky, to drastically cut their emissions. Paul says the new rules will cost businesses more than two billion dollars and he says Kentucky air is already clean enough.
The Kentucky Public Service Commission has approved an expansion of residential and commercial energy conservation and efficiency programs for Kentucky Utilities Co. and Louisville Gas & Electric Co. In an order issued Wednesday, the PSC authorized KU and LG&E to continue 10 existing programs for residential or commercial customers and to initiate three new programs for residential customers. One of the new programs will provide incentives for the purchase of energy-efficient appliances.
Lexingtonians can celebrate America Recycles Day by taking part in a number of events in town. A free paper shred this Saturday, November 12th at the old landfill pad on Old Frankfort Pike from 9 AM to 2 PM is the main event. Cheryl Taylor with the city's Department of Environmental Quality and Public Works said it does more than help the environment.
Federal and state air pollution regulations are lacking when it comes to toxic air emissions, according to the new NPR series Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities. A joint investigation by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity looks at air pollution across the country, and how some industries are finding regulatory loopholes.
If pollution regulations go into effect to limit carbon emissions at coal-fired power plants, Kentuckians' power bills will increase 60 percent or more, a University of Kentucky engineer said Thursday. Ninety-two percent of the Bluegrass State's electricity is generated by burning coal, which releases extra carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. That's blamed in part for global warming.
In recent years, China has surpassed the United States in how much coal it burns for electricity. But China is also investing a lot of money in technology to burn the coal more cleanly. That’s the conclusions from a Kentucky trade delegation that just returned from a 10-day trip to Shanghai, Beijing and Inner Mongolia. Kentucky’s trade delegation included representatives from the University of Kentucky, the state Chamber of Commerce and coal companies.
A view of the coal ash pond at LGandE's Cane Run Power station.
Credit Louisville Public Media
The federal government has reclassified eleven coal ash ponds around the country as “high hazard.” A coal ash pond at Louisville Gas and Electric’s Mill Creek Power Station is one that changed classification.The Environmental Protection Agency rates a coal ash pond—used on site to store coal combustion byproducts—as ‘high hazard’ if it’s in an area where a breach could potentially result in loss of life.
The bodies of two men killed in an accident on an Ohio County surface mine have been recovered. Rescue teams reached the bodies of 47-year-old Darrel Winstead of Madisonville and 33-year-old Samuel Lindsey of Mortons Gap around 1:15pm EDT.
Tigers, grizzly bears, sea turtles and humpback whales have long been mascots of endangered species. But then…there’s the pink mucket, which once peppered river bottoms in Kentucky, but has been decimated by pollution. Earlier this week, a team of scientists ventured into the Green River in an effort to reintroduce lab-grown pink muckets into their natural habitat.
The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has cited three Kentucky coal mines for safety violations. They were among 20 nationwide with a history of compliance problems targeted in MSHA’s special impact inspections. The mines cited were Vision Coal’s Mine #2 in Letcher County, and two Harlan County mines: D&C Mining Corporation’s mine and Linsco Energy LLC’s Mine No. 1.
State and federal biologists have released more than 100 endangered mussels into the Green River by Mammoth Cave National Park. The pink mucket mussel is a federally endangered species. The mussels used to be abundant in the Green River, but pollution and human interference with the water’s flow decimated the population. Now, scientists hope they can reestablish the population.
Student protesters are lobbying University of Kentucky officials to improving or shuttering the school's two coal boilers. The activists see opportunity in the new administration's push to upgrade campus facilities.
FRANKFORT - The state announced on Tuesday the awarding of $2.9 million in a federal grant to 11 communities and organizations around Kentucky for the development of watershed management plans and implementation of nonpoint source pollution controls. “Protection of our water resources is fundamental to our environment, our economy and good public health,” Gov. Beshear said. “These grants will fund efforts to help control pollution from sediment, pesticides and other substances that run off our land when it rains.”
The first phase of a project using algae to convert carbon dioxide into fuel will begin at Dale Power Station next week, East Kentucky Power Cooperative and state leaders announced Friday in Lexington. East Kentucky Power Cooperative will work with the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, allowing the center to demonstrate the new technology at its plant. The module uses algae to capture the carbon dioxide from coal-burning power plants, before converting it into fuel.
For the third year in a row, policy-makers, academics and activists will gather for the Bluegrass Bioneers conference at the University of Louisville. The conference is a satellite extension of the national Bioneers conference in California. While the main event is more than 2,300 miles away, organizers in Louisville have designed the Bluegrass version of the Bioneers conference to address local environmental problems.
A bill to update the nation’s pipeline safety standards after a fatal explosion in California has passed the U.S. Senate, despite long-term opposition by Kentucky senator Rand Paul. Paul had been single-handledly blocking the legislation for weeks. The bill would put new safety and environmental measures in place to regulate natural gas pipelines. The measure was introduced after a pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California killed eight people last year.
The federal government is predicting that the country’s appetite for coal will have decreased further by the end of the year. The Energy Information Administration expects coal will generate nearly 2 percent less of the nation’s electricity than it did last year, and the amount of electricity generated from coal could decline an additional four percent in 2012. This is mostly due to a small increase in natural gas-generated electricity, and a large increase in hydroelectric power.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating coal ash—a byproduct of burning coal for electricity. The bill gives control of coal ash disposal to the states, which are required to regulate it as least as stringently as municipal waste.
A Kentucky coal mine has been flagged as unsafe by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The Letcher County mine is the fourth recently placed on a ‘potential pattern of violations’ status. The mine is Dennis Creg Yonts’ Number Two Mine in Dean, operated by Vision Coal. Kevin Stricklin of MSHA says the notice amounts to a warning, of sorts.
The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a bill tomorrow that will block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating coal ash. The bill has support among House Republicans, but environmental groups are lobbying against it.The bill is sponsored by West Virginia Representative David McKinley. It would let individual states regulate the disposal of coal ash, which is a byproduct of burning coal for electricity. Under the bill, the states would have to regulate the ash at least as stringently as they regulate municipal waste.
Things have gotten bad enough at Harrodsburg's wastewater treatment plant that city commissioners declared a state of emergency Monday so it can make repairs quickly without going through the normal bidding process. The plant is still operating effectively but is in danger of coming out of compliance with state regulations for treating wastewater, which could result in fines, Mayor Eddie Long said.
Patriot BioEnergy partner Roger Ford speaks to local leaders about the possibility of a facility in Whitley County that would turn bioengineered sugar beets into fuel.
Sugar beets could very easily be putting people to work in Whitley County in the not too distant future if Roger Ford has his way, but these aren't the beets that your grandpa grew in his garden. Ford, a partner with Patriot BioEnergy LLC, wants to grow industrial beets that will be turned into fuel.
Kentucky and Indiana are among twenty-five states seeking a delay in federal regulations to reduce mercury and other toxic air pollution. The deadline for the Environmental Protection Agency to set standards for mercury and other toxic air pollution is November 16. But twenty-five states have filed a brief in the case asking a judge to push that back another year. As it’s proposed, the rule gives utilities three years to comply. Allison Martin in the Kentucky Attorney General’s office says the commonwealth joined the filing because it will need more time to comply.
Improper surface-mining practices caused or worsened flooding that killed a man and destroyed or damaged numerous homes in Knox County in June, more than 70 people affected by the disaster have claimed in a lawsuit. Jack Spadaro, a former federal mining official who is a consultant on the lawsuit, said it was the first claim in Kentucky he is aware of that alleges flooding caused by surface mining directly caused a death.
Carbon capture and sequestration projects are picking up around the world, according to a new report, even as some in the United States have recently been shuttered. According to the Global Institute for Carbon Capture and Sequestration, the technology’s future is bright. CCS, as it’s known, is a process by which carbon dioxide is removed from emissions before it gets to the atmosphere, then is injected deep underground.
A North Carolina law professor has filed an ethics complaint against the Washington, D.C. law firm that insinuated inbreeding was responsible for birth defects in Appalachia. The law firm made the comments while trying to refute a study connecting mountaintop removal to birth defect rates. Law firm Crowell and Moring raised several issues with the study’s methodology, including that the authors failed to account for consanguinity—or inbreeding—which can also cause birth defects.