According to the National Climatic Data Center, 2012 marked the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States. The year included a record warm spring, the second warmest summer, the fourth warmest winter and a warmer-than-average autumn. The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3°F, 3.2°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above 1998, the previous warmest year.
The average precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. for 2012 was 26.57 inches, 2.57 inches below average, making it the 15th driest year on record for the nation. At its peak in July, the drought of 2012 engulfed 61 percent of the nation with the Mountain West, Great Plains, and Midwest experiencing the most intense drought conditions. The dry conditions proved ideal for wildfires in the West, charring 9.2 million acres — the third highest on record.
A Tennessee Valley Authority coal-fired power plant in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky has landed on an environmental group's list of top polluters.
The report Thursday from the Environmental Integrity Project says the TVA Paradise Fossil Plant near Drakesboro emitted 1,505 pounds of arsenic, 1,907 pounds of lead and 1,409 pounds of chromium in 2011. The plant was third on the group's metal emissions list that used the most recent data available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The 2,200-megawatt plant is the largest in Kentucky by wattage output. TVA said in 2011 it is spending $500 million to upgrade pollution controls on two generating units at the plant. TVA's website says the work was to be completed by last month.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is planning a public meeting in January to solicit comments about restricting access in hazardous waters immediately upstream and downstream of Wolf Creek Dam and all Corps-owned locks and dams in Kentucky and Tennessee.
The dates for the meetings have not been set.
The Commonwealth-Journal reports that the Corps is concerned about hazardous water areas above and below dams in the Nashville District. The waters pose a high level of risk for the public because of the hydroelectric and lock operations often begin with little or no notice.
Public information meetings are planned at Somerset, Paducah, Nashville and Cookeville, Tenn.
State leaders say a nearly $1 billion project to update pollution controls at a massive Louisville power plant will be a boost for Kentucky's coal industry. The upgrades at LG&E's Mill Creek Generating Station in southwestern Jefferson County are expected to add about 700 construction jobs. They will also allow the 1,400-megawatt plant to continue to burn coal by meeting stricter federal air regulations that go in force in 2016.
Officials at Mammoth Cave National Park will host an open house Tuesday, November 27 th, for the renovated Visitor's Center at the world-famous park. The renovation work at the Center has been completed under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design guidelines, and the project will be submitted for gold-level certification, as a sustainable, "green" building.
Mammoth Cave National Park has completed its visitor center renovation and exhibit installation and is inviting the public to take a look. An open house is scheduled for 3:30 pm to 5 pm Tuesday. The park says Phase I cost $6 million, provided from park fees, and included demolition of the administrative building to make way for a large lobby, information desk, ticket sales and restrooms.
Authorities say crews will start removing hazardous materials next week from a train that derailed on the outskirts of Louisville nearly two weeks ago. A spokeswoman for the Louisville-Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency says the plan to transfer hydrogen fluoride and butadiene from stricken rail tank cars has been approved.
Authorities in Kentucky say a fire at the site of a train derailment is expected to continue burning throughout the day. Officials had initially said that the fire, fueled by a pressurized chemical that was being carried by a railcar, would burn itself out within two hours. However, Doug Hamilton with Metro Louisville Emergency Management says the fire is expected to continue burning through the day Thursday.
Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest is conducting experiments to determine which grasses, flowers and herbs work best when planted on rooftops. The Courier-Journal reports that the experiment called "Gardens in the Sky" involves three garden beds and two bee hives on the roof of the American Life Building in downtown Louisville.