environment

LBL Forest Service

New research is aiming to prevent toxic algae outbreaks across a three-state region, including part of Kentucky. It’s difficult to predict when and where the harmful algae will show up.

 

Researchers at The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission are working with Ohio State University on the multi-year project. The study will set up sensors along the Ohio River to alert researchers when and where there might be a problem.

Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Kentucky Utilities over coal ash pollution in Herrington Lake, ruling that the situation should be addressed by state regulators, rather than the federal court system.

In the opinion signed on December 28, U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves rejects claims by non-profit Earthjustice that the court has authority to rule on the issue under the federal Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Rather, he said the groundwater pollution and contamination of Herrington Lake should be addressed by Kentucky regulators, who are currently working with the utility to implement corrective actions.

Analysis Shows Toxic Sites In Flood Zone

Jan 2, 2018
Wikimedia Commons User Markzvo

The Ohio Valley has long been home to some of the dirtiest industries in the nation. Coal, plastics, and chemical plants and their waste sites dot our river valleys. Even those no longer operational leave their legacy in the soil and water.

Distler Farm sits on the outskirts of Louisville in Jefferson County, Kentucky. Its pastoral name is misleading. During the 1970s it served as a landfill for liquid waste, including medical and agricultural refuse.


Larry Dowling, WVPB

Throughout coal mining country of the Eastern U.S. you will find streams that run a peculiar rusty orange. It’s the result of pollution called acid mine drainage, or AMD. It’s estimated that about 10,000 miles of streams are polluted by AMD in Pennsylvania and West Virginia alone. In fact, researchers have calculated that every second, coal mines throughout the region are pumping out about 3,000 cubic feet of AMD. That’s roughly equal to an average May day’s flow of water in the Monongahela River as it winds through the region.


Erica Peterson

Kentucky’s largest electric utility expects to be powered more than 80 percent by natural gas or renewable energy by the middle of this century — regardless of whether the country’s energy policies change.

Last month, PPL — the corporation that owns both Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities — released a climate assessment called for by shareholders. It looks at the Kentucky fleet under three possible scenarios:

Kenn W. Kiser, morgueFile.com

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey stood in front of the state’s capitol to rally the roughly 120 coal miners and industry boosters gathered there.

“The fight against the unlawful Clean Power Plan started in Charleston, West Virginia,” Morrisey said, noting the state’s role in a legal challenge to the Obama-era rule.


Glynis Board

Last month the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt chose an eastern Kentucky mining town as the venue to announce his intent to repeal the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era rule that sought to limit greenhouse gas emissions. On Tuesday the agency returned to coal country to conduct its only public hearing on the matter in Charleston, West Virginia.


Erica Peterson

Kentucky wildlife officials say the state needs to combat Asian carp, an invasive species that is disturbing the ecosystem in Kentucky’s western lakes.

According to the National Parks Service, Asian carp were introduced to U.S. fish farms in the 1970s to control weed and parasite growth and eventually escaped into the Mississippi River.

Since then, the quick-breeding fish have made it to Mississippi River tributaries like the Ohio River and Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in the westernmost part of the state.

Kenn W. Kiser, morgueFile.com

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that he will sign a new rule overriding the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era effort to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

"The war on coal is over," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt declared in the coal mining state of Kentucky. He said no federal agency "should ever use its authority" to "declare war on any sector of our economy."

Paringa Resources website

A new coal mine in McLean County is another step closer to reality after approval was given for two parts of the project on Sept. 25.

A member of the McLean County Board of Adjustment, Nancy Wetzel, said the board approved a conditional use permit for coal washing operations and the refuse pile for the Poplar Grove Mine.

The Australian company Paringa Resources and its Evansville, Indiana affiliate Hartshorne Mining Group have begun construction of the mine. The project is on 270 acres in the rural community of Semiway between Calhoun and Sacramento.

Photos by Kara Lofton, illustration by Jesse Wright, WVPB

Harvey. Irma. Maria. The hurricane season’s super-charged storms have highlighted the importance of disaster planning, and the aftermath offers a fresh lesson in just how long and difficult recovery can be.

Communities in the Ohio Valley, some still recovering from flash floods themselves, are looking at ways to prepare for what emergency management professionals warn is an era of more frequent extreme weather. 

It’s time, experts say, to get ready for the new normal.


Erica Peterson

It may be nicknamed “The Sunny Side,” but solar installations in Indiana’s Clark and Floyd counties are still few and far between. A group of volunteers is trying to change that, and their push has intensified over the past few months.

At Jeffersonville’s First Presbyterian Church, Tricia Tull points to solar panels on the building’s roof. The church installed 13 kilowatts of solar two years ago, paying about $3 a watt. This year, they added 15 more kilowatts.

Hurricane Irma is hovering somewhere between being the most- and second-most powerful hurricane recorded in the Atlantic. It follows Harvey, which dumped trillions of gallons of water on South Texas. And now, Hurricane Jose is falling into step behind Irma, and gathering strength.

Is this what climate change scientists predicted?

In a word, yes. Climate scientists such as Michael Mann at Penn State says, "The science is now fairly clear that climate change will make stronger storms stronger." Or wetter.

The U.S. power grid could become less reliable if too much electricity comes from renewable energy and natural gas, according to a study from the Department of Energy.

But not everyone is buying it. Environmentalists suspect the Trump administration is just trying to prop up an ailing coal industry.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry called for the study in the spring. The report doesn't say there is a grid reliability problem now — only that one could develop if more coal and nuclear power plants shut down.

Brent Deppe is taking me on a tour of the farm supply business, called Key Cooperative, that he helps to manage in Grinnell, Iowa. We step though the back door of one warehouse, and our view of the sky is blocked by a gigantic round storage tank, painted white.

"This is the liquid nitrogen tank," Deppe explains. "It's a million-and-a-half gallon tank."

Nitrogen is the essential ingredient for growing corn and most other crops. Farmers around here spread it on their fields by the truckload.

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