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
5:35 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

EIA Data Shows Natural Gas, Coal Generation Equal for First Time

For the first time since the federal government has begun collecting data, natural gas and coal produce virtually the same amount of the country’s electricity.

The Energy Information Administration just crunched its numbers for this past April, and preliminary data shows that both coal and natural gas make up about 32 percent of the country’s total electricity generation.

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Environment
3:58 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

Kentucky to Receive Federal Grant to Continue Studying Fatal Bat Disease

Marvin Moriarty USFWS

Kentucky is among 30 states that will receive federal funds to boost monitoring for a deadly bat disease.

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Environment
10:48 am
Mon July 9, 2012

New York Times Op-Ed Focuses on Mountaintop Removal

Jason Howard of the Kentucky Environmental Foundation had an Op-Ed in the New York Times yesterday on the ways in which coal--specifically, mountaintop removal coal mining--is dividing people and communities in Appalachia.

Howard chronicles coal industry advertising and the harassment of several coalfields environmental activists.

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Environment
7:00 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Drought Endangers Corn Crops, Could Raise Food Prices

Despite scattered thunderstorms during the past week, parts of Indiana and Kentucky remain in a drought. That condition is hitting corn and soybean farmers particularly hard.

Half of Indiana’s and nearly half of Kentucky’s corn crop are in jeopardy, rated as “poor” or “very poor” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt says once a crop is rated “very poor,” there’s not much that can be salvaged.

“Probably getting close to virtually gone. Very little yield potential left in that corn,” he said.

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Environment
5:00 am
Mon July 9, 2012

NPR, Partners Investigate Resurgence of Black Lung Disease

An investigation by NPR and several partners has found that black lung disease is far from being eradicated among coal miners. On the contrary: the reports outline a disease where diagnoses have doubled in the last decade in parts of Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia.

Black lung disease--also called coalworkers' pneumoconiosis--is a disease caused by breathing large amounts of coal dust.

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Environment
10:00 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Water Shortage Watch Announced for Twenty-Seven Kentucky Counties

Kentucky officials have declared a water shortage watch for 27 counties, mostly in central and western parts of the state.

Nearly all of the state outside of Jefferson and nearby counties is in some degree of drought. Many have been classified as abnormally dry, but central and northern Kentucky are in a level one drought, and the entire western part of the state is in a level two drought. That means in some places, water is becoming scarce.

The state issues water shortage watches when drought conditions could possibly threaten the availability of drinking water supplies.

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Environment
4:53 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

Fireworks Lead to Spike in Louisville Soot Pollution

lkluft Wikimedia Commons

There’s an air quality alert in effect today, but that’s for ozone. Louisville’s air quality monitors showed spikes in another type of pollution last night, as fireworks were going off around the city.

Air Pollution Control District spokesman Tom Nord says the fireworks caused spikes in several area air pollution monitors.

“We’re already having problems with ozone, and we did have another exceedance yesterday for ozone,” Nord said. “But fireworks are mostly a particulate matter issue, it’s mostly a soot issue.”

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Environment
3:34 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

Kentucky Coal Operators to California Reps: Don't Expect Mine Safety Fine Payments Soon

A lawyer has responded to two California representatives on behalf of three Kentucky mine operators.

In June, Congressmen George Miller and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey sent a letter to Jack Ealy and Ralph Napier, the president and vice president of K and D Mining, as well as John North of Jackrock, LLC. They wanted the mine operators to submit a plan to pay the $1.568 million currently owed to the federal government for mine safety violations.

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Environment
12:11 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

Air Forecasted to Be Unhealthy for All on Friday

The Louisville Air Pollution Control District has issued an Air Quality Alert for Friday. Ozone levels are expected to be high enough to be unhealthy for everyone--a 156 on the Air Quality Index. This is the fourth Air Quality Alert issued so far this week, and the 17th so far this summer.

For hourly air quality updates, call (502) 574-3319.

 

Environment
12:00 pm
Wed July 4, 2012

What Do Zoo Animals Do During Air Quality Alerts?

Erica Peterson WFPL

There’s another Air Quality Alert in effect for today, and ozone levels are expected to be high. But those warnings go out to the human inhabitants of Louisville. How do the high ozone levels affect the exotic animals at the Louisville Zoo?

Zoo curator Steve Wing says one of the species that would be most sensitive to the high ozone levels are the zoo’s penguins.

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