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
6:30 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Louisville's Air Program Marks Successes, But Health Concerns Linger

A scene off of Bells Lane, in Rubbertown
Erica Peterson WFPL

Trish Lee’s small yellow house is a block away from Bells Lane, where many of the Rubbertown factories are concentrated. From her backyard, she can’t see the chemical plants, rail yards and oil refineries that have stood down the street for decades — but she can smell them just about anywhere.

“Sometimes it burns,” she said. “Like you can go outside, sometimes at night, and your eyes actually burn.”

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Environment
5:31 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Warren County 'Net-Zero' School Receives $37,000 For the Power it Generated

A classroom at Richardsville Elementary, which is situated to take advantage of natural sunlight.
Warren County School District

A school in Bowling Green is cashing in on the energy efficient features the district installed when it was built. Warren County schools received a check from the power company this fall for more than $37,000—payment for the energy the school generated.

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Environment
2:52 pm
Sun January 6, 2013

Starting This Week: A Series on Health Near Rubbertown

Erica Peterson WFPL

Starting this week, WFPL will begin airing a month-long series about past and present air pollution in the city’s Rubbertown neighborhood, and the health effects for those who live nearby. Installments will air during Morning Edition, Here and Now and All Things Considered every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and will be posted here on Smokestack when they air.

Environment
3:13 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Alpha Natural Resources Will Lay Off 200 Coal Miners in Eastern Kentucky

Decumanus Wikimedia Commons

Coal company Alpha Natural Resources announced today it will idle four underground mines in Harlan and Letcher counties. Two hundred miners will lose their jobs, while about sixty people will be moved to other positions or other mines.

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Environment
3:21 pm
Wed January 2, 2013

Kentucky Utilities to Pay Millions For Alleged Clean Air Act Violations

Erica Peterson/WFPL

Kentucky Utilities will spend $57 million to install updated pollution control equipment and pay civil penalties under the terms of a proposed consent decree.

The money will go to installing a sulfuric acid mist emission control system at the company’s Ghent power plant, replace a coal-fired boiler and pay $300,000 in fines to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Here’s what the EPA said about the settlement in a news release:

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Environment
8:55 am
Mon December 31, 2012

Non-Profit, Metro Government in Talks Over Agreement on Botanical Garden Site

Credit Botanica

A group working to establish a botanical garden across from Waterfront Park is making progress. Efforts have sped up over the past year and non-profit Botanica now has a draft agreement with Metro Government for the site.

The organization has a vision of a 22-acre botanical garden, with different themed gardens and a conservatory for indoor plants. Botanica board president Brian Voelker says the outdoor gardens will be designed to maximize the usable space.

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Environment
5:19 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

U.S. Coal Industry Not Well-Positioned to Benefit From Increased Short-Term Global Demand

Decumanus Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this month, the International Energy Agency released its medium-term outlook on coal...and concluded that countries like India and China will be burning more coal over the next five years. So much, in fact, that coal could even surpass oil as the world's top energy source by 2017. But that rise in coal production doesn't mean that any of it will come from Central Appalachia.

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Environment
9:03 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Local Chapter Aims to Make Energy Economics Accessible for Everyone

Louisville’s chapter of the U.S. Association for Energy Economics is planning for a full 2013.

The Louisville chapter of the USAEE has been around for about five years, but chapter activities and lectures have been sporadic. The group aims to provide education and networking opportunities for everyone interested in energy—from professionals to the community as a whole.

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Environment
3:59 pm
Thu December 27, 2012

Indiana Regulators Approve Modified Deal for Coal Gasification Plant

Regulators have approved a settlement that prohibits Duke Energy from passing on to consumers all the costs the company will incur building a coal-gasification plant in southwestern Indiana.

Costs for the plant in Edwardsport have increased substantially since it was proposed in 2007, and the latest estimate is $3.5 billion. Under the new agreement, Duke’s customers will pay nearly $2.6 billion for the plant, while the utility will be forced to absorb nearly $900 million in cost overruns.

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Environment
12:13 pm
Thu December 27, 2012

EPA Head Lisa Jackson Announces Resignation; Twitter Reacts

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced her plans to leave her post after President Obama's inauguration. During her time in the role, she drew fire from the coal industry and manufacturers for her work to increase scrutiny of mountaintop removal coal mining and tighten regulations on coal-fired power plants. But she also won support from environmental groups and occasionally grudging respect from her opponents.

Her successor is unknown, but reports are speculating it could be either Deputy Administrator Robert Perciasepe or Assistant Administrator for Air Gina McCarthy.

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