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
6:04 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Kentucky Denies Permit for Coal Ash Landfill At Trimble County Power Plant

LG&E's Trimble County Power Station
Erica Peterson WFPL

The Kentucky Division of Waste Management has denied a pending permit for a coal ash landfill in Trimble County.

The proposed landfill would have been 218 acres, near Louisville Gas and Electric’s Trimble County Power Station. It was meant to store the coal ash produced by the plant, but ever since it was first proposed, the project has encountered numerous problems.

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Environment
3:31 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Exhibit Captures Relationship Between 1970s America, the Environment

Children play in yard of Ruston home, while Tacoma smelter stack showers area with arsenic and lead residue.
Credit Gene Daniels/National Archives / Records of the Environmental Protection Agency

Photographs of Americana taken through an environmental lens are on display as part of a new exhibit at the National Archives in Washington, DC. The photos were taken as part of the Environmental Protection Agency's DOCUMERICA Photography Project, and show life in the 1970s, often with an environmental bent.

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Environment
12:49 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Study: Illness More Likely in Eastern Kentucky Coal County Than Non-Coal Counties

Gabe Bullard WFPL

A new health study in Eastern Kentucky has found that residents in a county where surface mining is prevalent have a higher instance of illness than residents in two control counties.

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Environment
7:30 am
Mon March 18, 2013

Water Advocates Discuss 'Dead Zone,' Need for Stricter Water Standards

‘Dead Zones’ are areas of low-oxygen levels in the ocean, caused by nutrient pollution. The world’s second-largest dead zone forms every summer in the Gulf of Mexico, thanks to runoff from farms and sewage treatment plants. While the pollution kills aquatic life in the dead zone, it can also kill fish and cause algae blooms upstream.

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Environment
1:25 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

In Kentucky's Carp Madness, Fishermen Net 83,000 Pounds Of Invasive Species

Credit Erica Peterson/WFPL

Asian carp is an invasive species of fish that can devastate aquatic ecosystems and, as they have a propensity for leaping out of the water, injure boaters. And once they've gotten into a river or lake, they're nearly impossible to get out. But for two days this week in Western Kentucky, teams of commercial fishermen tried. They descended on two lakes to catch as many Asian carp as possible. It was a tournament sponsored by the commonwealth and it was called…Carp Madness.

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Environment
5:51 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Mine Safety Commission Rules in Favor of Whistleblower

Mackie Bailey in the P-1 Mine. The roof bolting machine's safety devices are visible in the foreground of the photo; law requires they be held against the roof.
Courtesy of Mackie Bailey

The Kentucky Mine Safety Review Commission has ruled that a coal miner who reported unsafe conditions won’t be punished for breaking the law.

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Environment
6:04 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

New Law Clarifies Regulation of Biomass, But Doesn't Provide Any Guarantees

David Wright Wikimedia Commons

A new bill signed into law by Governor Steve Beshear last week clarifies the rules that regulate biomass plants in Kentucky.

The bill gives additional guidance to the Public Service Commission on how to regulate biomass plants that sell power to a utility in Kentucky, with one particular project in mind: a biomass plant outside Hazard. Construction on the plant—owned by Lexington-based ecoPower—is expected to begin on the plant sometime this year.

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Environment
4:33 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

More Contamination Found Near Black Leaf; At Least 69 Homes Affected

Credit Erica Peterson / WFPL

The Environmental Protection Agency has found more signs of toxic chemicals in properties near the former Black Leaf Chemical plant in Louisville’s Park Hill neighborhood. This brings the total number of contaminated properties to at least 69.

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Environment
8:30 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Budget Cuts May Lead to Reduction in Toxic Air Monitoring in Louisville

The air monitoring program's funding has decreased significantly since 2008.
Russ Barnett KIESD

Without some additional grant funding, the air toxics monitoring run out of the University of Louisville will have to scale back next year.

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Environment
5:04 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Department of Labor Announces $5 Million in Emergency Grant to Help Laid-Off Kentucky Coal Miners

Decumanus Wikimedia Commons

The Department of Labor is sending more than $5 million to Eastern Kentucky to help laid-off coal miners and their families. $5,192,500, to be exact.

The federal government announced the emergency grant today. In a press release, the agency said the money would go to providing re-training for miners and their spouses.

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