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 in Louisville.

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Environment
6:23 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Pollution, Wildlife and Apathy: What I Saw While Paddling Down Beargrass Creek

Erica Peterson WFPL

The three forks of Beargrass Creek wind through much of Louisville. The waterway used to be used for waste disposal…and it still takes on wastewater from time to time, when the city's sewer system overflows.

But progress has been made to clean up Beargrass Creek, and today several groups went out on the water to take a look.

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Environment
12:29 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Court Rules Army Corps' Streamlined Coal Mining Permit Doesn't Protect Environment

Gabe Bullard WFPL

An appeals court has ruled in favor of environmental groups that argued the streamlined permit the government used to permit mountaintop removal mines wasn’t protective of the environment.

The decision was issued today by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. It finds that the U.S. Army Corps’ issuance of the streamlined “Nationwide 21” permit is in violation of the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

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Environment
7:33 am
Mon April 22, 2013

Source of Contamination in Park Hill Homes May Not Be From Black Leaf Plant

Erica Peterson WFPL

The Environmental Protection Agency’s analysis of soil near Louisville’s former Black Leaf Chemical Plant continues, but the agency still isn’t sure how much of the contamination of nearby land—including some private lawns—can be blamed on the plant. And now, an agency spokesman says some of the preliminary results suggest one of the most prevalent chemicals found might not have come from the facility at all. 

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Environment
2:34 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

LG&E to Announce Plans to Reuse Coal Byproducts at Mill Creek

Erica Peterson WFPL

Louisville Gas and Electric will hold a press conference Monday morning to announce “a new beneficial reuse manufacturing facility.” The star-studded event will feature Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and state house majority leader Rocky Adkins.

So, why the fuss? It seems that Louisville company Charah plans to use the byproducts scrubbed from the emissions at the Mill Creek Power Station in a sulfate-based fertilizer the company manufactures.

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Environment
5:21 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Kentucky Will Develop New Strategy to Reduce Nutrient Pollution

Kentucky regulators say the state will develop a more comprehensive strategy for controlling nutrient water pollution, which commonly comes from sources like sewage treatment plants and agricultural runoff. Regulators from a dozen states and five federal agencies met in Louisville today to discuss the pollution, and how it contributes to hypoxia.

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Environment
3:22 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Rare Hearing Could Be Imminent if Air District, LG&E Can't Agree on Coal Ash Violations

Credit Erica Peterson / WFPL

The Air Pollution Control Board could be close to its first administrative hearing in seven years.

At a meeting today, the board approved a settlement between the Air Pollution Control District and Louisville Gas and Electric. Under the terms of the settlement, LG&E will pay $10,500, as well as implement stricter pollution controls to contain coal ash dust at the company’s Cane Run Power Station.

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Environment
5:27 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

New Clean Water Technology Will Be Tested in Louisville

Rice University scientists Michael Wong (left) and Juan Velazquez are working with researchers at DuPont and Stanford University to field test PGClear, a scalable process for removing chlorinated pollutants from water.
Jeff Fitlow Rice University

A new nanotechnology to clean up contaminated water will soon be tested in Louisville. It will use two precious metals—gold and palladium—to remove chloroform from contaminated groundwater at the DuPont plant in Rubbertown.

Nanotechnology is a term that refers to materials made in a lab that manipulate chemicals at an atomic level. They’re smaller than a red blood cell, hence “nano.”

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Environment
11:48 am
Mon April 15, 2013

WFPL Wants You! For Environmental Testing

It’s no secret that Louisville has issues with air pollution. But it’s difficult to determine which pollutants are present, how present they are and whether some areas of town are disproportionately affected by pollution.

Over the next few months, WFPL is partnering with community members to conduct small-scale environmental testing. Interested participants just have to be willing to host a small monitor in their homes for three days, and be interviewed for any stories that result from the testing. It’ll be easy, fun and informative.

Environment
6:52 am
Mon April 15, 2013

Study: Most Coal-Fired Power Plants Can't Compete Against Natural Gas

Erica Peterson/WFPL

A new study estimates that 65 percent of current coal-fired power plants won’t be economical to run in the near future.

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Environment
11:44 am
Fri April 12, 2013

Work to Begin this Weekend on Community Garden at 28th and Dumesnil

A community garden in Atlanta.
Daniel Lobo Wikimedia Commons

Volunteers will gather in Louisville’s Parkland neighborhood on Saturday to begin construction of a community garden.

Right now, the future community garden is just a vacant lot at the corner of 28th and Dumesnil Streets…only blocks from where a shooting last spring killed three people. But after a day of work Saturday, organizers hope it’ll be well on its way to being a place for the community to gather and grow food.

The garden will have about 40 raised beds, six of which are designed for people with physical disabilities.

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