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
4:28 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

McConnell Files Resolution, Hoping to Block Proposed Carbon Limits for New Power Plants

Erica Peterson WFPL

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is hoping for a vote soon to block federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants.

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Environment
3:43 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Gov. Steve Beshear's Budget Cuts Deep for Some Kentucky Energy and Environment Programs

Steve Beshear
Credit Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio

Some departments of the Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet will see deep cuts over the next two years, if the General Assembly approves Gov. Steve Beshear’s proposed budget.

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Environment
9:00 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Louisville Gas & Electric Proposes Expansion of Energy Efficiency Programs

Credit LG&E

Louisville Gas and Electric is asking for permission from state regulators to expand five of its energy efficiency programs and introduce a new one. The company filed to make the changes last week with the Public Service Commission.

In the PSC filing, LG&E is asking for authorization to expand some of its current energy efficiency programs…like increasing the number of rebates available for certain appliances and adding more incentives for customers to make energy upgrades to homes after getting a home energy audit.

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Environment
4:35 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Louisville Students Raise Awareness About Trash Consumption—By Carrying it Along With Them

duPont Manual senior Jenna Farineau and University of Louisville sophomore Laura Krauser, holding four days worth of their trash.
Erica Peterson WFPL

Members of a Louisville youth environmental organization are taking a unique approach this week to raise awareness about the household garbage people create. They’ve been carrying around all the trash they generate—everything that can’t be recycled or composted.

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Environment
1:32 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Mayor Greg Fischer Reorganizes Louisville's Air District After Independent Audit Findings

Keith Talley, the new Executive Director of the Air Pollution Control District
Louisville Metro Government

Mayor Greg Fischer says he plans to reorganize Louisville's Air Pollution Control District in the wake of two independent audits.

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Environment
10:48 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Chemical Plume Reaches Louisville; Water Co. Says Treatment Plants Removing Chemical as Expected

Shelves in the Highlands Kroger were emptied of drinking water jugs this morning, even though the Louisville Water Company has assured customers the tap water is safe to drink.
Erica Peterson WFPL

A chemical plume traveling down the Ohio River reached Louisville early this morning, and a water company spokeswoman says the treatment plants are handling the chemical as expected and there's no danger to the public.

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Environment
2:49 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Pregnant Women Cautioned on W. Va.'s Drinking Water; Louisville Water Co. Says It's Safe Here

Erica Peterson WFPL

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned pregnant West Virginians in the areas affected by last week’s chemical spill that they might want to drink bottled water until there’s no methylcyclohexane methanol detected in the region’s water system.

Let’s put aside the facts that it’s a little bit ridiculous that the CDC came out with this recommendation nearly a full week after the spill, and that the fact sheet the agency distributed repeatedly contains the phrases “no information” and “no known risk” (emphasis mine—and see yesterday’s post about the reasons there’s little information about this chemical).

But should pregnant women in Louisville sip freely on the city’s water when the chemical plume reaches the city Friday?

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Environment
1:35 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

As Chemical Moves Down Ohio River,West Virginia Spill Highlights Missing, Insufficient Data

Creative Commons

The chemical plume created by a spill in Charleston, West Virginia, is traveling down the Ohio River by Cincinnati today. The spill was discovered Friday; 7,500 gallons of a chemical used to clean coal called methylcyclohexane methanol—or MCHM—leaked into the Elk River, and contaminated the region’s drinking water for days.

Now, communities along the Ohio River are dealing with the spill’s aftermath in different ways. The Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky water districts have elected to close water intakes until the chemical passes, just in case. But Louisville still plans to keep its intakes open. Spokeswoman Kelley Dearing-Smith said the water company believes the chemical will be so diluted by the time it gets here, it will be treated by the company’s riverbank filtration system and won’t pose any threat to human health.

“This is not a health concern and we don’t believe customers are going to notice anything at all,” she said. “They certainly won’t notice any difference in the quality of their drinking water, and they shouldn’t notice any difference in the taste or odor of their drinking water.”

That will probably be the case. But all of these water districts—in West Virginia, in Cincinnati, in Louisville—are basing their decisions on science which very may well be flawed: information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Environment
10:51 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Louisville Meets Unofficial Goal to Certify 25 Energy Star Buildings in 2013

Twenty-five buildings in Louisville were officially Energy Star certified in 2013, which means the city has met the goal it set for itself early last year.

Last April, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer told attendees at an energy savings award ceremony that he’d like to see 25 buildings added to the federal Energy Star certification program by the end of the year.

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Environment
6:00 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

In Kentucky, No Immediate Danger From West Virginia Chemical Spill, But Could it Happen Here?

Credit Creative Commons

The plume of a hazardous chemical from a spill that contaminated the water for 9 counties in West Virginia has made it to the Ohio River. But the Louisville Water Company says the chemical doesn’t pose a danger to the region’s drinking water.

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