Environment

WKU Public Radio

National parks are ready to welcome back visitors after a brief government shutdown.

During a partial government shutdown, maintenance employees, tour guides and most other personnel are furloughed. Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park was one of many parks with limited services and that meant no cave tours over the weekend. Even in winter that’s a big deal. John Garder at the National Parks Conservation Association, said visitors spent more than $30,000 on an average January day at Mammoth Cave in 2016.


Kentucky Mesonet

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin presented his State of the Commonwealth on Tuesday. He suggested 70 programs that could be eliminated from the state budget.

One of those is the Kentucky Mesonet based at Western Kentucky University.  Rhonda Miller spoke with state climatologist and director of the Kentucky Mesonet Stuart Foster about the implications of the governor’s recommended budget cuts on farmers, businesses and individuals across the state.


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.


Vivian Stockman and Southwings

The prestigious National Academy of Sciences is pursuing private funding to complete a study of the health effects of mountaintop removal coal mining after the Trump administration ordered a halt to the scientific work.

The panel of scientists assembled by the National Academies was months into a study of the health effects of surface mining when the Trump administration’s Interior Department told them to stop work.  


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

A bipartisan group in Congress, including several Ohio Valley lawmakers, is pushing for more federal support for technology known as carbon capture and storage. The lawmakers and an uncommon alliance of labor, business, and environmental groups want to pass legislation called the FUTURE Act which would speed commercial deployment of technology that reduces carbon dioxide emissions from industries that burn fossil fuels.

Such technology has been in development for decades. Today, a number of projects show various methods are possible to “scrub” CO2 from the waste stream and store it underground. However, it is still prohibitively expensive to scale up those projects to the level needed to affect the global output of carbon pollution.


Kentucky Mesonet

The statewide weather and climate monitoring network Kentucky Mesonet has installed its 69th station, which is  in a high-risk area for tornadoes.

The new Mesonet station is near Tompkinsville in Monroe County in south central Kentucky.

Patrick Collins is the Mesonet systems meteorologist. He says the real-time data collected at the Monroe County site is important because the area, which is just a couple of miles from the Tennessee border, is prone to tornadoes.

University of Kentucky

President Donald Trump is nominating a Lexington engineer to fill the top spot at the federal Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement.

The Department of the Interior announced Thursday that Steven Gardner of Lexington consulting firm ECSI has been tapped for the role. Gardner has more than four decades of experience working with and advocating for the mining industry.

In 2011, he testified before the House Committee on Natural Resources on the Obama administration’s Stream Protection Rule, which tightened regulations on surface coal mining.

Gardner and others raised questions about the justification used for the regulation, saying the Office of Surface Mining had prompted his company to change key calculations to lessen the perceived effect of the rule on jobs and coal production.

paringaresources.com

The Australian company developing a coal mine in McLean County reports that construction is accelerating. That move comes as county officials respond to a lawsuit filed by brothers who own land near the mine site. 

The Mclean County Fiscal Court and the McLean County Joint Planning Commission filed a response in McLean Circuit Court to allegations by brothers Gordon and Ken Bryant that approvals for the Hartshorne Mine were not in line with required procedures.

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