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
11:34 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

At Community Meeting, EPA Lays Out Next Steps for Lees Lane Landfill

Federal Environmental Protection Agency officials say there’s still work to be done at the Lees Lane Landfill site in southwest Louisville, though they don’t believe the site is currently a danger to nearby residents.

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Environment
5:08 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Report Finds Surface Coal Exports Rising, Argues Destruction is Harder to Justify

Gabe Bullard WFPL

According to a new analysis by U.S. House Democrats, an increasing percentage of coal from mountaintop removal mines is being exported overseas. The report was released this morning, as the House Natural Resources committee held a hearing on a proposed stream buffer rule to protect Appalachian streams from coal mine pollution.

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Environment
1:43 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

New Report Shows Mountaintop Removal Coal is Increasingly Exported

A mountaintop removal site in Eastern Kentucky.
Gabe Bullard WFPL

A report released today from the Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee analyzed coal export data and found that mountaintop removal mines are sending an increased percentage of coal produced oversees.

The report used data from the Energy Information Administration, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, and data self-reported by the mines. Here's a summary of what they found:

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Environment
5:28 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

EPA Will Hold Meeting About Lees Lane Landfill Tomorrow

Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency will be in Louisville tomorrow to discuss a former toxic Superfund site.

New environmental issues have arisen at the Lees Lane Landfill in West Louisville.

The landfill was closed in 1975. After 400 drums of hazardous materials were found on the site near the Ohio River several years later, Lees Lane was classified as a toxic Superfund site, and cleanup began.

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Environment
4:00 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

A Primer on Sulfur Dioxide and the Latest Sierra Club Report

A new report from by the Sierra Club estimates how much sulfur dioxide is emitted from nine Kentucky power plants and it finds that all nine of them—including the Mill Creek and Cane Run power plants in Louisville—are violating the national air quality standards.

Sulfur dioxide has been linked to health issues like pulmonary inflammation, asthma, emphysema and other lung conditions.

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Environment
2:43 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

New Studies Look Closer at Mountaintop Removal's Effect on Health

A mountaintop removal site in Eastern Kentucky.
Gabe Bullard WFPL

Three new studies have added more scientific evidence to support ill health effects from mountaintop removal coal mining.

Over the past few years, several studies have presented evidence supporting links between health problems—like cancer and birth defects—that are more prevalent in communities with mountaintop removal mines. But these new studies attempt to pinpoint specific pollutants that could be causing those health problems.

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Environment
3:54 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

LG&E Disputes State's Findings in December Gas Explosion

Louisville Gas and Electric is asking the case against the company for its role in a residential gas explosion in December be dismissed. In documents filed with the Kentucky Public Service Commission yesterday, the company disagrees with many of the state's conclusions as to the cause of the explosion.

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Environment
3:05 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

International Hydropower Conference Begins Today in Louisville

Representatives from power companies around the world are in Louisville today for HydroVision International's annual conference. The event draws people who are already invested in hydroelectric power, or are looking for ways to begin the process. Participants also had a chance to tour two local hydropower facilities: the new Cannelton Locks and Dam project (which is still a work in progress) and LG&E's Ohio Falls Generating Station.

The conference's keynote speakers are:

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Environment
1:04 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Sewage Spill Kills Fish in Brush Run

Hundreds of small fish have been found dead after thousands of gallons of raw sewage was accidentally released into a waterway in the far eastern part of Jefferson County.

Brush Run is a small stream—less than a foot deep in most areas—that feeds into Floyds Fork. The sewage release affected half of a mile of it, and killed about a thousand one to two-inch fish.

Metropolitan Sewer District Regulatory Services Director Brian Bingham says a grease buildup caused a sewage pumping station to malfunction.

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Environment
12:08 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

GOP Seeks to Block Funding for New Measures to Reduce Black Lung Disease

GOP members on the U.S. House Appropriations committee have inserted language into a bill to block a new Mine Safety and Health Department initiative to reduce occurrences of black lung disease--or coal workers' pneumoconiosis.

NPR's Howard Berkes reported on the new language this morning on NPR's news blog The Two Way:

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