Erica Peterson

Environment Reporter

Erica reports on environment and energy issues for WFPL, which run the gamut from stories about the region’s biodiversity to coal mine safety and pollution issues. In the name of journalism, she’s gone spelunking, tagged mussels and taste-tested bourbon. Erica moved to Louisville in June 2011 from Charleston, West Virginia, where she worked for the state’s public radio and television affiliate. Besides Kentucky and West Virginia, she’s lived in New Jersey, Minnesota and Illinois. She lives with her husband and son in Louisville.

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Environment
12:00 am
Sat August 2, 2014

Community Garden Project Sends Local Produce to Louisville Food Bank

The 7th Street Community Garden, one of ten run by Jefferson County Extension.
Credit Fiona Grant / WFPL

A new partnership aims to send more fresh, local produce to Louisville’s Dare to Care Food Bank by utilizing some of the unused space in the city’s community gardens.

Jefferson County Extension runs 10 community gardens in Louisville, covering about 22 total acres. But on any given year, there are always some plots that are unassigned and lay fallow. This year, Extension Coordinator Wayne Long thought some of that space could be put to work.

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Local News
4:14 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

LEO Weekly Cuts Staff Under New Ownership

UPDATED 4:31pm with comments from Aaron Yarmuth.

On the first day of local ownership in years, LEO Weekly has fired several employees.

Staff writer April Corbin tweeted that she was let go this afternoon, along with editor Sara Havens. Havens also writes the popular Bar Belle column, and today was her 15th anniversary working for the alt-weekly.

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Environment
3:42 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Kentucky Regulators Approve Conversion of Big Sandy Power Plant From Coal to Natural Gas

Credit By Flickr user CM195902: http://bit.ly/KhOtGU

Kentucky regulators have approved a plan to let a utility company convert part of the coal-fired Big Sandy power plant in Eastern Kentucky to natural gas.

Big Sandy is more than 50 years old. Because of federal regulations requiring power plants to reduce the amount of mercury and other air toxins their plants emit, Kentucky Power had a choice: upgrade the plant’s pollution controls to the tune of a billion dollars or stop burning coal at the plant.

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Environment
5:55 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Canadian Mining Company to Pay $3 Million Settlement For Western Kentucky Water Violations

This is supposed to be the location of a stream at one of Elgin Mining's sites in Crittenden County.
Credit Matt Dennis / Elgin Mining

A Canadian coal mining company has reached a settlement with the federal government over Clean Water Act violations at several former mining sites in Western Kentucky and will pay more than $3 million in fines.

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Environment
7:01 am
Thu July 31, 2014

5 Takeaways From The Annual Kentucky Coal Report

Credit Decumanus / Wikimedia Commons

The Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence released its annual coal report earlier this month. Kentucky Coal Facts 2014 is a huge, comprehensive document of nearly all facets of the coal mined and burned in Kentucky.

In case you don’t want to read all 127 pages, here are five interesting takeaways:

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Environment
4:09 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Members of Kentucky's Congressional Delegation Criticize EPA Greenhouse Gas Regulations. Again.

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and America's Got Talent contestant Jimmy Rose, who sings a song called "Coal Keeps the Lights On." Rose attended the EPA hearing as a guest of McConnell.
Credit McConnell Press Office

The Environmental Protection Agency is holding hearings this week across the country to collect public comments on its proposed regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation gathered today to address what they call a “war on coal.”

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Environment
2:31 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

As U.S. Exports Coal—and Pollution—Where Does That Leave Kentucky?

Credit Harry Schaefer / U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Here’s what’s not up for debate: Eastern Kentucky coal production has plummeted over the past several years. In 2000, the region mined just over 106 million tons of coal. Last year, production was below 40 million tons.

The reasons for that decline are numerous and complicated.

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Environment
7:30 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Policy Group Asks FTC to Review 'Misleading' Green Claims About Biomass

A concrete slab indicates the site of the proposed ecoPower biomass plant in Hazard, Kentucky.
Credit Frankie Steele / Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting

A policy group is asking the Federal Trade Commission to scrutinize advertising claims by biomass plants that the energy produced is environmentally friendly and “green.”

Biomass energy is produced when wood products are burned in a power plant. There aren’t any large-scale biomass plants in Kentucky yet, but a company called ecoPower is building one in Eastern Kentucky.

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Local News
5:22 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Metropolitan Sewer District Board OKs 5.5 Percent Rate Increase

Credit Creative Commons/Zepfanman.com

Louisville’s Metropolitan Sewer District board on Monday  approved a 5.5 percent rate increase, which will raise the average customer’s bill by $29 a year. The change is slightly smaller than the 5.8 percent increase ratepayers saw last year.

MSD is about halfway through a 19-year consent decree with the federal government to overhaul the city’s sewer systems and decrease the frequency of sewer overflows.

The new rate goes into effect on Friday.

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Environment
6:45 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Instead of Emailing, Some Kentuckians Choose Traveling 400+ Miles For EPA Public Hearing

Credit Erica Peterson / WFPL

The Environmental Protection Agency will hold hearings this week on proposed regulations to limit the carbon dioxide coal-fired power plants can emit. And environmental activists and coal industry supporters are both traveling from Kentucky to Atlanta this week for the federal hearing.

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