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
12:22 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

LG&E, Metro Government Reach Tentative Agreement on Several Coal Ash Violations

The smokestacks at LG&E's coal-fired Cane Run power plant.
Erica Peterson WFPL

Louisville Gas and Electric has reached an agreement with Metro Government over alleged coal ash violations at the company's Cane Run Power Station.

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Environment
6:55 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

McConnell Says EPA Nominee Will Foster "Radical Anti-Coal Jobs Agenda"

McConnell meets with EPA Administrator nominee Gina McCarthy in his office on Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Sen. Mitch McConnell's office

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's already been in the news a few times today, but here's one more story from an environmental perspective: McConnell says President Obama's nominee for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator will be detrimental to Kentucky's coal industry.

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Environment
4:21 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Event Aims to Map Downtown Louisville's Tree Canopy

Census Data Wikimedia Commons

Louisville’s Urban Design Studio is looking for help cataloging downtown trees.

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Environment
4:28 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

The Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster, Three Years Later

Courtesy of Sam Petsonk

Today is the third anniversary of the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster, where 29 coal miners were killed in Montcoal, West Virginia. On April 5, 2010—a Monday, the day after Easter—the Massey Energy-owned mine exploded.

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Environment
7:00 am
Fri April 5, 2013

Thinking About Burning A Couch if the Louisville Cardinals Win? Don't.

Couch burning in Morgantown, W.Va.
Credit Creative Commons

The University of Louisville’s men’s basketball team will play Saturday in the Final Four, and Metro Police are warning fans to celebrate without lighting couches on fire, as fans are sometimes wont to do.

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Environment
5:37 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Kentucky Releases Revised Selenium Proposal, With Minimal Tweaks

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and environmental groups are still at odds over proposed changes to Kentucky’s water quality standard for a substance called selenium. The state released its revised proposal today.

Selenium is a naturally occurring element that is released into waterways during mountaintop removal mining.  Studies have found it's toxic to aquatic life, and high-level exposure has been linked to health problems in humans.

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Environment
6:34 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Watch: The Peregrine Falcons at LG&E's Power Plant Are Hatching

That's a baby falcon.
Credit LG&E

The eggs are hatching! Last week, I reported that there were peregrine falcons nesting in a box on the cooling tower of Louisville Gas & Electric's Mill Creek power plant.  The female laid five eggs in February, and those eggs were expected to hatch last week. 

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Environment
5:08 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Eastern Kentucky Coal Production Hits Lowest Level Since 1965

Decumanus Wikimedia Commons

New data from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet shows that coal production is down in Eastern Kentucky from previous years, and the region’s workforce is suffering.

Coal production dropped more than 27 percent from 2011 to 2012 in Eastern Kentucky. This is the lowest production has been in the region since 1965. And as expected, coal mine employment fell in Eastern Kentucky too, by nearly 30 percent from the 2011 levels.

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Environment
5:34 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

The Kentucky Legislative Session Wasn't Awful for the Environment, Lobbyist Says

An aluminum smelting plant, photographed in 1973
Environmental Protection Agency

This year’s legislative session is officially over, and one environmental lobbyist says it was a relative success.

This year, there were about 50 bills that were loosely categorized as having something to do with the environment or energy (including ones that were tagged “natural gas,” “coal,” “pollution” and “nuclear”). Twelve of them passed the General Assembly, and have either been signed by Governor Beshear or are waiting on his signature. On the face, that’s a 24 percent success rate.

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Environment
12:27 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

EPA Will Assess Some Flame Retardant Chemicals for Potential Human Health Effects

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to assess 23 commonly-used chemicals—including 20 flame retardants—for their potential effects on human health and the environment.

The study will also include an analysis of how several of those flame retardants behave in the environment…like whether they bioaccumulate in humans or can be absorbed into the body with a certain type of exposure.

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