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
Fri January 11, 2013

Rubbertown Odor a Nuisance, But is it Illegal? Hard to Tell

In Rubbertown, industrial and residential areas coexist.
Erica Peterson WFPL

All of the major factories in Louisville's Rubbertown area have permits that allow them to put specific amounts of certain chemicals into the air. But when residents report unpleasant smells, it’s hard to know where they’re coming from and whether a factory is violating its permit.

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Environment
4:14 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Report Suggests Problems With Placement of Mine Impoundments in WV

The federal Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation has released the results of an analysis of West Virginia coal mine impoundments which could have implications for Kentucky.

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Environment
5:07 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Comer Criticizes EPA's Role in Floyds Fork Rehabilitation

File photo

Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture is worried that a process to map pollution in the Floyds Fork watershed could end up having lasting effects on agriculture policy.

James Comer expressed his concerns about the Environmental Protection Agency on Facebook and in a statewide agriculture newsletter. Here’s what he said on Facebook:

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Environment
6:30 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Air Issues Plague Park DuValle, One of Louisville's Newest Planned Communities

In the late 1990s, Louisville spent nearly $200 million revitalizing a blighted area on the West End. Park DuValle emerged—and has since been nationally-recognized as a model mixed-income community. But one thing the city couldn't change was the neighborhood's location. And like the housing projects that stood before it, Park DuValle is next to Louisville’s industrial area. Residents say the odors in the air are often unbearable.

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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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