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
5:22 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Indiana Court of Appeals Rejects Deal Between State, Coal Gasification Plant

The Indiana Court of Appeals has thrown out a deal between the Indiana Finance Authority and a company that wants to sell synthetic gas to the state's utility customers.

From The Associated Press:

The court ruled Tuesday that the deal should not include certain industrial customers, so the Finance Authority and Indiana Gasification must amend the contract and seek new approval by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

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Environment
5:00 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Entire Car of Butadiene Drained in Derailment, Thousands of Gallons Spilled

Crews are still working to mitigate the damage from thousands of gallons of a flammable chemical that spilled early Monday after a train derailment in southwestern Jefferson County.

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Environment
9:00 am
Tue October 30, 2012

Coal Miner Discusses Mining Layoffs, Challenges Facing Eastern Kentucky

The newest installment of WMMT radio's Making Connections series features something that's often missing from the conversation about coal in eastern Kentucky: a coal miner telling his story and talking  about how the industry's decline is affecting him and his community.

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Environment
1:17 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Coal Company, West Virginia Newspaper Reach Settlement in Libel Suit

A lawsuit filed against a West Virginia newspaper by a coal company has been resolved.

Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray sued the Charleston Gazette and reporter Ken Ward Jr. for a blog post where Ward mentioned Murray subsidiary Genwal Resources’ role in the 2007 Crandall Canyon mine disaster and Murray subsidiary Ohio Valley Coal Company’s more recent violations of the Clean Water Act.  As I reported back in August:

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Environment
10:33 am
Mon October 29, 2012

5 Things to Know About Butadiene

A train derailed in southwestern Jefferson County this morning, and emergency personnel have reported that the chemical butadiene is leaking from a railcar. People living near Abbotts Beach Road in Jefferson County and Katherine Station Road in Bullitt County have been evacuated, and there's a shelter-in-place with a two-mile radius from the spill. Here are some things to know about the chemical that's leaking.

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Environment
9:00 am
Mon October 29, 2012

How Much Influence Should Extractive Industries Have Over Public Art?

Carbon Sink by Chris Drury
University of Wyoming Art Museum

A recent New York Times article dredged up a controversy that's been going on in Wyoming since this spring. The issue at hand is whether the University of Wyoming caved to pressure from politicians and coal companies when it removed a piece of public art from its campus a year ahead of schedule.

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Environment
8:20 am
Mon October 29, 2012

U of L to Hold Conferences Examining Multiple Aspects of Sustainability

Several days of lectures and discussions about sustainability kick off this Thursday in Louisville.

First, there’s the Campus Community Partnerships for Sustainability Conference. It’s co-hosted by Jefferson Community and Technical College and the University of Louisville, and features two days of events. Then, beginning Friday, Bluegrass Bioneers is coming back to town.

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Breaking
8:17 am
Mon October 29, 2012

Train Derailment: Evacuation, Road Closures Expected to Last At Least 24 Hours

Update: 5:40 p.m.

Evacuations and the shelter-in-place warning are still in effect late Monday afternoon after the morning train derailment in southwestern Jefferson County, said Jody Duncan, the MetroSafe spokeswoman. A shelter is being set up at the Nichols Fire Station No. 3 at 130 Meicel Lane in Bullitt County, about nine miles west of Shepherdsville.

Anyone who wants use the shelter space is asked to call the Red Cross at 561-3642.

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Environment
3:00 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

Mountaintop Removal Activist Wins Prestigious Wallenberg Medal

The University of Michigan awarded the prestigous Wallenberg Medal to mountaintop removal activist Maria Gunnoe earlier this week.

Gunnoe lives in Boone County, W.Va., and has spent the past eight years campaigning against mountaintop removal and its environmental effects in Appalachia. Gunnoe was also the 2009  Goldman Prize honoree from North America.

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Environment
12:09 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

Biologists Use New "Bug Index" to Evaluate Ohio River Water Quality

Biologist Ryan Argo disturbing the river sediment in search of macroinvertebrate samples.
Erica Peterson WFPL

For years, biologists have analyzed fish tissue to gauge the water quality in rivers. But in the Ohio River, researchers are now looking at bugs, too.

Ryan Argo and Jamie Wisenall are standing in the shallows of the Ohio River, just outside Owensboro. With long nets, they reach towards the river bottom, scooping up the sediment.

They wade back to the boat, and examine their haul…lots of larvae, and one identifiable leech.

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