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
2:26 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Appeals Court Won't Reconsider Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

Erica Peterson WFPL

A federal appeals court has rejected a request from the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its August decision to vacate a major air pollution rule.

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is designed to reduce the amount of pollution that blows across state lines. It places limits on the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides produced in 28 states, including Kentucky.

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Environment
6:30 am
Fri January 25, 2013

No End in Sight for Clash Between Residents, Rubbertown Industry

Rail cars filled with the toxic chemical butadiene cross the road near Rubbertown.
Erica Peterson WFPL

Eboni Cochran says there’s a lot to like about her neighborhood in Louisville’s West End.

“You make a right and you will hit lots of green space, beautiful parkway with beautiful tall trees, with nice houses,” she says.

Cochran is a leader with a volunteer group called REACT: Rubbertown Emergency ACTion.

"But then to the left, you are going to run into lots of railroad tracks, you’re going to see railcars that are parked behind trees throughout your little route. And on the right you’re going to start seeing the beginnings of Rubbertown, chemical plants.”

And there’s the ‘but.’ Pretty much everyone I spoke with for this series—from Park DuValle to Riverside Gardens—said they like living where they live. But the health and safety problems—past, present and potential—seriously affect their quality of life.

So, what’s the answer? Do you kick out the industry? Move the people? Or find some middle ground where everyone can coexist? And for people who have spent their lives worried about toxic emissions from Rubbertown, is it even possible to coexist?

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Environment
4:54 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Researcher Says Carbon Dioxide Could Stop Spread of Asian Carp

Tdk Wikimedia Commons

A researcher at the University of Illinois has found a new way to possibly stop the spread of Asian carp throughout the country's waterways: carbon dioxide.

Here's the story from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences:

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Environment
3:34 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Kentucky, Indiana Join 15 Other States in Splitting from Air Pollution Group

Chalk air pollution regulators up as the latest group to splinter because of increasingly divisive partisanship in Washington, D.C. Regulators from 17 states—including Kentucky and Indiana—are forming a new association to assist states with air pollution policies.

Right now, 43 states are members of a group called the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, or NACAA. The group has been around for 32 years, and is a non-partisan member organization that represents state and local air regulators.

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Environment
6:30 am
Wed January 23, 2013

Interstate Traffic Makes Air Quality in Rubbertown Worse

Start your car. See that puff from the tailpipe in your rearview mirror? Benzene, butadiene, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide.

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Environment
6:30 am
Mon January 21, 2013

Southwest Louisville Residents Still Concerned About Long-Dormant Landfill

A sign on the Lees Lane Landfill warns of hazards.
Erica Peterson WFPL

For 35 years, the Lees Lane Landfill in Southwest Louisville took in everything the city wanted to throw out, from household trash to toxic chemicals. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates more than two million cubic yards of waste went into the landfill. And though it’s been closed and remediated, there are still unanswered questions about contamination at the site.

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Environment
6:30 am
Fri January 18, 2013

Riverside Gardens: A Former Resort Community Besieged By Pollution

The entrance to the Riverside Gardens subdivision.
Erica Peterson WFPL

The neighborhood Riverside Gardens was created as an oasis in the West End…a resort community for Louisvillians who wanted a quick, close getaway from the city. But after the 1937 flood and the rise of industry in Rubbertown, to the north, Riverside Gardens became just another subdivision. And now, the place where city dwellers used to go to get away from pollution is now surrounded on three sides by smokestacks and a former toxic dump.

Louisville was a dirty place in the 1920s.

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Environment
12:11 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Deadly Bat Disease Found in Mammoth Cave National Park

Marvin Moriarty USFWS

White Nose Syndrome has been confirmed in Mammoth Cave National Park.

White Nose Syndrome is caused by a white fungus, and is deadly to bats. Since 2006, the fungus has been found in 21 states. The disease has killed more than 6 million bats in four Canadian provinces and 19 states, including Kentucky. Mammoth Cave has been taking steps to keep the fungus out of its caves--like making visitors walk over cleansing mats--but park superintendent Sarah Craighead confirmed the disease's presence today.

From the news release:

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Environment
6:30 am
Wed January 16, 2013

Patients, Widows, Researchers Still Dealing With Toxic Legacy of Rubbertown Chemical

Revis Crecelius, seen here on the day he went to the hospital for surgery.
Erica Peterson WFPL

Seventy years ago, in the early days of Rubbertown, there were a lot of dirty jobs. But no job was dirtier than an entry-level post at the B.F. Goodrich plant. Workers called “poly cleaners” climbed into large vats that had held the chemical vinyl chloride to clean them. And now, decades later, some of these men—they’re all men—have developed serious liver problems. At least 26 of them have developed cancer, and all have died from it.

One of them was Janet Crecelius Johnson’s husband, Revis.

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Environment
11:50 am
Tue January 15, 2013

State Toxic Releases Continue Downward Trend

Credit Courtesy Energy and Environment Cabinet

The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection has finished analyzing data of all the toxic chemicals that were released in the state in 2011.

Since 1986, companies have been required to report the number of pounds of toxic chemicals they release into the air, into water and on land, and there’s been a definite downward trend in Kentucky as new regulations go on the books. More than 83 million pounds of toxics were disposed in Kentucky in 2011—about 13 million pounds less than in the previous year.

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