Environment

Kimberly Shatney

Shortly after this story aired West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced that the state had secured federal funding needed to help Pine Grove finish a nearly $50,000 repair project for its failing sewer system.

According to a Thursday, May 31, news release from the governor’s office, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, confirmed final approval this week for a public assistance grant requested by Pine Grove. The $37,000 grant reflects a 75 percent cost share from FEMA. Pine Grove was among the communities included in a federal disaster declaration prompted by last summer’s flooding in north-central West Virginia.

Justice said a civil contingency fund under the governor’s control will provide the remaining 25 percent, or just over $12,000, for repairs at Pine Grove which include repairing units for dozens of individual property pump wells.


Brittany Patterson

On a recent chilly Tuesday morning, about 20 people filed along a winding dirt path leading deeper into West Virginia University’s Arboretum in Morgantown.

Armed with binoculars, smartphones and hiking boots, the group had one goal — spot and identify the chittering birds hidden in the trees above.

LeJay Graffious with the Mountaineer Audubon chapter led the bird walk.


Rebecca Kiger

Far from the ocean and Puerto Rico’s famous beaches, narrow roads wind into mountains not unlike the country roads of our home, West Virginia. After hours of driving we reach a rural community in the island’s center called Tetuan Tres. Like so many places in rural Appalachia, you don’t come here accidentally.

We’ve come to learn more about how families here are recovering from natural disaster, and what it might teach us about the ways West Virginia communities can cope with devastating floods.


Bill Hughes

Radioactive waste illegally dumped in an Estill County landfill will likely stay in the ground after state regulators approved a corrective action plan last week.

The plan laid out two options: enclose the low-level radioactive material in the landfill, or excavate it and dump it somewhere else.

Environmental advocates say the only safe long-term plan is to remove the waste, but state regulators agreed with landfill operators.


Another Kentucky Utility Adds Solar To Its Mix

Apr 26, 2018
Duke Energy

Duke Energy is the latest major utility to begin experimenting with solar power in Kentucky.

It was just two years ago that Louisville Gas and Electric opened the largest utility-scale solar array in the state.

Now, Duke Energy is testing solar power in Northern Kentucky. The utility unveiled two solar farms this week that combined, use approximately 29,000 solar panels.

The two facilities in Kenton and Grant counties are already creating enough energy to power about 1,500 homes, said Lee Freedman, Duke Energy spokesman.

WalletHub

A new study ranks Kentucky the third least environmentally-friendly state in the nation.

Vermont was ranked the most environmentally friendly, with West Virginia coming in last.

 

The WalletHub study compared states across three key factors--environmental quality, eco-friendly behaviors, and climate-change contributions. Kentucky ranked 48th overall, and last in the category of environmental quality.

Glynis Board

Ohio-based utility FirstEnergy Solutions made waves last month when it asked the Department of Energy to grant it an emergency order to help keep coal and nuclear plants operating across the Ohio Valley.

The request even hit the president’s radar. Speaking earlier this month at a roundtable event in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Donald Trump said the administration was examining the utility’s request.

"We'll be looking at that 202, you know what a 202 is, we'll be looking at that, we're trying," he said.


Eastern Kentucky PRIDE

It turns out spring cleaning isn’t just for homes—it’s for entire regions of the commonwealth.

The non-profit group Eastern Kentucky PRIDE is holding its 20th annual Spring Cleanup during the month of April.

An estimated 25,000-30,000 volunteers across 42 counties in eastern and southern Kentucky will clean up trash near homes, businesses, parks, and roadways.

The Interior Department is abandoning a plan to more than double entrance fees to some of the country's most popular national parks, opting instead to apply a "modest" fee increase to 117 parks beginning this summer in an effort to raise funds for park maintenance.

The announcement Thursday comes after an outcry from the public and from lawmakers, who were concerned that certain large increases that were initially proposed would price people out of the nation's parks.

Angel's Envy

The Kentucky whiskey distiller Angel’s Envy is planting more than 12,000 trees in the Daniel Boone National Forest. The move is part of the company’s sustainability program.

In September of last year Angel’s Envy fans shared photos on social media with #AE4THETREES. The company counted more than 12,000 photos and posts with the hashtag, so they’re planting a tree for almost every post. Kyle Henderson is the production manager at the Louisville-based Angel’s Envy. He said it means a lot to him to be part of the sustainability effort.

The Trump Administration today moved to weaken fuel economy standards for automobiles, saying the current ones are inappropriate and wrong.

The long-anticipated move is a win for auto manufacturers, which had lobbied for lower fuel-economy standards. It's also a rejection of one of former President Barack Obama's biggest efforts to combat climate change by curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Gray Watson/Creative Commons

Kentucky solar advocates want state regulators to consider the benefits of residential solar, but they say that won’t happen under the latest version of a net metering bill under consideration in the state General Assembly.

Last week, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a revised version of House Bill 227, which would allow state regulators to set the rates for the solar power that customers feed back into the electricity grid.

Daviess County Emergency Management

Much of Smothers Park along the Owensboro riverfront remains under water from recent rains and floodwaters. The Ohio River crested near 48 feet on Tuesday, about eight feet above flood stage.

John Clouse is deputy director of Daviess County Emergency Management. He says an inch or more of mid-week rains are expected to keep the river above its banks a while longer. 

"We should see a gradual but steady decline in the height of the river. Somewhere around Friday or Saturday we should see some significant droppage," said Clouse. "A couple feet here, a couple feet there, which when you’re talking about something the size and the width of the Ohio River, that’s a considerable amount of water.”

Adam May/ WHOP

The severe weather that battered Kentucky over the past weekend has left some communities grieving over relatives and neighbors who lost their lives.

The Saturday flooding  took the life of an elderly Union County farmer and a Simpson County man. A  Logan County woman died on Saturday when a tornado struck her home.

The warnings about the deadly nature of flooded roadways keep coming from police and transportation officials, but it’s still difficult to make a spur-of-the-moment decision when your vehicle suddenly comes up on a flooded roadway.

Vectren

The Evansville energy company that serves 145,000 customers in southwestern Indiana has released a transition plan that phases out most coal-fired power and replaces it with natural gas and solar.

Vectren says its plan will reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent by retiring three coal-fired plants and retrofitting one remaining coal unit so it's in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

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