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
1:24 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

LG&E to Shut Down Coal-Fired Cane Run Plant Eight Months Early

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

Louisville Gas and Electric announced today that the company's coal-fired Cane Run Power Plant will be shut down eight months earlier than planned.

The company announced plans to convert the power plant to natural gas last year, and construction on the new facility is going faster than expected. The coal-fired plant should be shut down by May 2015.

Here's what LG&E had to say in a news release:

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Environment
10:48 am
Mon October 15, 2012

PHOTOS: Louisville's First-Ever CycLOUvia

Gabe Bullard WFPL

A two-mile stretch of road was closed to vehicles yesterday afternoon for Louisville's first CycLOUvia. The event was inspired by a similar one called Ciclovia in Bogota, Colombia, where streets are closed to traffic every Sunday to encourage walking and biking.

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Environment
4:35 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Environmental Attorney, State Spar Over Secretary's Comments on Clean Air Act

A local environmental attorney is challenging the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet over statements officials made earlier this week at a conference.

The contentious point revolves around a comment Energy and Environment Secretary Len Peters made during a session at the cabinet’s annual conference earlier this week. Here’s how his comments were summarized in a story by Jim Bruggers of the Courier-Journal.

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Environment
1:00 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Washington Post Editorial Urges Politicians to Stop Telling Coalfields 'Fairy Tales'

Decumanus Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this week, the Washington Post published an editorial for residents of coal country.

The newspaper’s editorial board is left-leaning, and begins the piece by criticizing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for “pandering” to coalfields residents, promising them a resurgence of the industry if he’s elected.

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Environment
8:00 am
Fri October 12, 2012

Revealing a City's Greenhouse Gas Emissions...One Building at a Time

A new project by researchers at Arizona State University has succeeded in creating visualizations of a city’s greenhouse gas emissions. The first test case of the new technology is Indianapolis.

Here's the video the team made to showcase the technology:

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Environment
12:22 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

Regulators Grant Mercury Variance for Ohio River Plant

Ohio River regulators have voted unanimously to allow a West Virginia company five more years to comply with new, more stringent pollution requirements.

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Environment
9:00 am
Thu October 11, 2012

What Will it Take to Make Western Kentucky Aluminum Smelters Profitable?

The smokestack of an aluminum smelting plant, 1973.
Doug Wilson Environmental Protection Agency

Over the past several months, there have been worries that two big aluminum smelters in western Kentucky will shut down. Rio Tinto-Alcan has a plant in Sebree (Webster County) and Century Aluminum has a plant in Hawesville (Hancock County).

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Environment
5:10 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

New Solid Waste Plan Could Include Plastic Bag Ban, Food Waste Pickup

Louisville’s solid waste board is set to vote on the city’s five-year plan at the end of this month. If it passes, residents could see changes in how their trash is handled and recycled.

The plan includes three big ideas: banning plastic bags for use with yard waste, allowing citizens to place food scraps at the curb for composting and setting hard limits on how much trash can be thrown out—and charging extra for more trash.

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Environment
1:43 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Judge Agrees to Settlement Between Coal Company, Kentucky for Water Pollution Violations

A Circuit Court judge has signed the settlement that a coal company, the commonwealth and environmental groups agreed to last week.

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Environment
9:00 am
Wed October 10, 2012

LG&E Ends Coal Contract with Consol Energy

Decumanus Wikimedia Commons

Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities are terminating the company’s contract with coal producer Consol Energy.

This news in and of itself isn’t huge—to put it in perspective, LG&E/KU burns 16 million tons of coal a year, and the company’s contract with Consol was only for 500,000 tons. But it was a good excuse to take a look at how the utility uses coal, and how its usage might change in the future.

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