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
4:09 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Experts Say Tree Removed for Speed Expansion Was Only 60 Years Old

The mystery tree in 1974, left, and recently, right.
Speed Art Museum

The Speed Art Museum has produced photos (see image) showing the supposedly 300-year-old tree that was removed last year to make way for the museum’s expansion. The first picture is from 1974, the second is more recent.

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Environment
2:03 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

In Australia, Renewable Energy is Cheaper Than Coal

Harvey McDaniel Wikimedia Commons

A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows that the price of renewable energy in Australia is so low that it’s now cheaper to invest in wind and solar power than in a new coal-fired power plant.

According to Bloomberg, energy from a new wind farm costs about $83 per megawatt hour. Building a new coal plant would cost consumers $148 per megawatt hour, and a new baseload gas plant would cost $120 per megawatt hour.

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Environment
11:46 am
Wed February 13, 2013

Air Pollution Control District Fines Rubbertown Company

The Air Pollution Control District and Momentive Specialty Chemicals have reached an agreement on alleged violations at the company's Rubbertown plant. The proposed settlement fines Momentive $13,500 for failing to report excess emissions. There will be a public hearing on the fine next Wednesday at 10am, and the Air Pollution Control Board will vote on the settlement.

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Environment
4:45 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

The Mystery of the Old Campus Oak: An Erica Peterson Adventure

Erica Peterson WFPL

WFPL takes a cue from film noir. Self-appointed tree detective Erica Peterson looks into the mystery of whether a recently-removed tree on the University of Louisville's campus was, in fact, more than 300 years old.

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Environment
7:17 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Lawmakers Delay Decision on Proposed Changes to Selenium Standards

Lawmakers will wait a month before considering controversial changes to Kentucky’s water quality standard for a substance called selenium.

Selenium occurs naturally in small amounts, but is released in heavier doses by some coal mines and can cause deformities in fish. There are currently two standards for selenium in water: one based on short-term exposure and another for long-term exposure. The proposal from the Kentucky Division of Water would essentially get rid of the first standard, and change the way the second is measured.

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Environment
6:27 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

De-Treed For Speed: Museum Expansion Fells Oak Tree

Tommy Parker, Steven Bowling and Greg Gardiner examine the Valley oak's stump.
Erica Peterson WFPL

UPDATE: Experts say the original estimate of the tree as more than 300 years old (made by a University of Louisville biology professor) is very inaccurate. This story's headline has been changed to reflect the new information. Click here for an update to the story.

Original post:

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Environment
1:31 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

NRDC Director: Canadian Tar Sands Expansion Would Be Disastrous for the Environment

Susan Casey-Lefkowitz

A year ago, President Obama rejected a proposed pipeline to transport oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The Keystone XL pipeline is touted by oil companies as a way to expand the amount of oil that’s produced from the tar sands in Alberta, but its construction raises concerns about the environmental effects and climate change.

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Environment
1:20 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Bellarmine University Creates New School of Environmental Studies

Robert Kingsolver, the new dean of Bellarmine's School of Environmental Studies, on the Bellarmine Farm.
Courtesy Bellarmine University

Bellarmine University has elevated its environmental studies major into a new school, placing it on par with the university’s schools of arts and sciences, nursing, business and others.

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Environment
12:19 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Yarmuth Reintroduces Bill to Study Health Effects of Mountaintop Removal Mining

Gabe Bullard WFPL

Congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville has reintroduced a bill that would put a moratorium on mountaintop removal coal mining until the practice’s health effects can be better understood.

The Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act—or ACHE—was first introduced last summer, but died when it was referred to committee. Now, Yarmuth and New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter are reintroducing the legislation.

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Environment
11:42 am
Wed February 6, 2013

REI Executive is Reportedly Obama's Choice for Interior Secretary

According to reports, President Obama will nominate Sally Jewell to replace outgoing Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Jewell is the president and CEO of Recreational Equipment, Inc., better known as outdoor outfitter REI, and a former oil company official.

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