Erica Peterson

Erica reports on environment and energy issues for WFPL, which run the gamut from stories about the regionââââ

The Environmental Protection Agency has unveiled its rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants. Some politicians and the coal industry have criticized the rules, saying they amount to a ban on new coal-fired plants.

The plan sets an emissions limit of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour for large natural gas plants, and 1,100 pounds per megawatt hour for coal and smaller natural gas plants.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says climate change caused by greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide poses numerous public health challenges—everything from poor air quality to an increase in the number of disease-spreading mosquitoes and ticks. She said these rules for new power plants are necessary, and won’t have the dire economic consequences industry groups predict

“We have proven time after time that setting fair, Clean Air Act standards to protect public health does not cause the sky to fall,” McCarthy said. “The economy does not crumble.”

Technologies like carbon capture and sequestration will help new coal plants comply with the standard; they’re available, but are still very expensive.

Kentucky LRC

Kentucky lawmakers will hear from both advocates and opponents of a proposed natural gas liquids pipeline Thursday.

If it’s built, the Bluegrass Pipeline would cross more than a dozen central Kentucky counties, carrying natural gas liquids from the Northeast to the Gulf of Mexico. Land agents have been in the state for several months, talking to landowners and asking for permission to survey property.

Some have agreed, but the project has attracted significant grassroots opposition from Kentuckians worried about the safety and environmental issues the pipeline could bring.

Pipeline company Williams says the pipeline would spur economic development and reduce the cost of consumer goods.

The Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Environment meets at 1 p.m. Thursday in the Capitol Annex.

Coal production in both of Kentucky’s coalfields has dropped slightly and employment is at a record low, according to the most recent quarterly report from the state’s Energy and Environment Cabinet. The commonwealth produced nearly 20.5 million tons of coal in the second quarter of 2013, which represents a 1.3 percent drop from the first quarter of the year.

There was a slight drop in both the eastern and western Kentucky coalfields, but western Kentucky still produced slightly more coal—50.2 percent of the total production.

The data estimates there are 12,342 coal miners employed in the state—the lowest since the state began keeping records in 1927. That number represents a loss of 851 jobs, but the losses weren’t even among the coalfields. Eastern Kentucky lost jobs, while Western Kentucky’s coal industry grew slightly.

Cream cheese, cucumber juice and a touch of onion. That may sound like an unlikely combination, but Benedictine is a Kentucky favorite. Gwynne Potts, a self-proclaimed aficionado, says it's delicious.

"The best thing to eat Benedictine on is just white bread," Potts says. "No special bread; it only takes away from the Benedictine."

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