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
1:06 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

AEP Announces Plans to Retire Coal-Burning Plant in Eastern Kentucky

By Flickr user CM195902: http://bit.ly/KhOtGU

A coal-fired power plant in eastern Kentucky will be retired in the next several years.

Originally, American Electric Power subsidiary Kentucky Power planned to spend nearly a billion dollars to install pollution controls on the Big Sandy Power plant in Louisa so it could continue burning coal under upcoming federal pollution regulations.

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Environment
4:47 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Whistleblower Faces State Penalty for Working in Unsafe Conditions He Reported

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

An eastern Kentucky coal miner who reported unsafe work conditions is now facing sanctions by the state.

Mackie Bailey is a longtime roof bolting machine operator who worked at Manalapan Mining’s P-1 mine in Harlan County. For several weeks, Bailey says he and other miners had been working without a required safety device called the Automated Temporary Roof Support (ATRS), which is supposed to brace against the roof of the mine and protect miners from a potential roof collapse.

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Environment
1:09 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Energy Agency Predicts Coal's Short-Term Prospects Are Bright Internationally

Decumanus Wikimedia Commons

In the United States, recent data has shown that coal is losing ground, and is now neck in neck with natural gas in terms of the percentage of electricity generation the country gets from each fuel. Coal use is even diminishing in the southeast, a region that's typically relied on coal-fired power.

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Environment
11:40 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Artificial vs. Natural Christmas Trees: Not Much Difference, Environmentally

Credit DR04 / Wikimedia Commons

If you're an environmentally-conscious Christmas celebrator, this is the time of year when the question of the sustainability of the holiday season comes up. And for the centerpiece of the holiday--the Christmas tree--is it more environmentally-friendly to buy a real or an artificial one?

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Environment
8:30 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Second Sandhill Crane Hunting Season Begins in Kentucky

Kentucky’s second sandhill crane hunting season is underway.

When the Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife first proposed a sandhill crane hunting season, it met with opposition from groups that argued the birds weren’t overpopulated or causing an environmental burden. There was also a worry that hunters could mistakenly kill an endangered whooping crane.

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Local News
8:07 am
Sun December 16, 2012

The Hip Hicksploitation: MTV Goes Buckwild With Rural Stereotypes

Here’s a confession: I’m from New Jersey. I spent 16 formative years in the Garden State. And when I left—except for a few years in Minnesota and Chicago for college—I lived in West Virginia.

And for some reason, those are the two states MTV has most recently selected for—or subjected to—reality show scrutiny.

Watch out, Louisville. If this  suggests any kind of pattern, you’re next.

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Environment
3:20 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

EPA Tightens Soot Standard; Estimates Cleaner Air Will Save Billions in Health Costs

The smokestacks at LG&E's coal-fired Cane Run power plant.
Erica Peterson WFPL

The federal government has strengthened the national air quality standard for soot and fine particle pollution.

The new standard is 20 percent more stringent than the current standard, which was set in 1997. It will require communities to make sure fine particle pollution is limited to 12 micrograms per cubic meter annually (the current limit is 15).

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Environment
2:08 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Old Factories and Olfactory: How the Subjective Sense of Smell Steers Citations

Dori Wikimedia Commons

Parts of every city are smelly, occasionally. And in Louisville, several neighborhoods in particular have routinely complained about odors...like some areas of Butchertown near the JBS Swift slaughterhouse, and neighborhoods bordering chemical plants and factories in Rubbertown.

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Environment
3:19 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

New Agreement Will Help Protect Endangered Bat Habitats

Indiana Bat
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A new agreement between federal and state governments aims to protect endangered Indiana Bats that spend part of the year in Kentucky's forests.

In the agreement, the Kentucky Division of Forestry will take the Indiana Bat into account when it manages the more than 43,000 acres of state forest land.

Indiana Bats have been on the nation’s endangered species list since 1967. In recent years, they’ve become increasingly vulnerable due to White Nose Syndrome—a fungal disease that’s fatal to bats.

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Environment
1:47 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Louisville Adds 166 New Trees to Downtown, Replacing Some Lost to Wind, Drought

Workers from Action Landscape plant one of the new trees outside the Brown Hotel on Fourth Street.
Erica Peterson WFPL

Work has begun on replacing some of the dead trees and empty tree wells in Louisville’s downtown area.

There are more than 300 dead trees or vacant tree wells in downtown Louisville. Some of the trees fell victim to ice storms, some to strong winds, and some to drought. With money from Metropolitan Sewer District, Metro Government, the Louisville Downtown Management District and a donation from Tree Commission co-chair Henry Heuser Jr., 166 new trees will be planted over the next few weeks.

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