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
1:39 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

LG&E Cited for Gas Safety Violations

The Kentucky Public Service Commission has cited Louisville Gas & Electric for safety violations that led to a natural gas explosion in December. The explosion in South Louisville destroyed a house, and the PSC determined that there were problems with LG&E's emergency response. The company was also cited for violations related to gas line pressure in the system.

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Environment
11:53 am
Tue June 26, 2012

Federal Appeals Court Upholds EPA Air Pollution Rules

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

A federal court of appeals has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency can regulate carbon emissions from vehicles and power plants. The court also upheld the agency’s scientific determination that greenhouse gases pose a danger to human health.

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Environment
11:08 am
Tue June 26, 2012

Incumbent Wins Shelby Energy Board Election

Earlier this month,  I wrote about Sonia McElroy. McElroy was vying for a seat on the board of Shelby Energy--an electricity cooperative that serves parts of Shelby, Trimble, Henry and Carroll counties. This was the first contested election in the co-op's history. It was being run according to the bylaws, but McElroy raised questions about whether the rules were fair and biased in favor of incumbents.

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Environment
5:17 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Study Outlines Barriers to Wind Energy in Kentucky

A turbine at a Hawaii wind farm.
Harvey McDaniel Wikimedia Commons

Unlike its Appalachian neighbors, Kentucky has no large or small-scale wind farms. And a study says that’s only partly due to the state’s low wind potential.

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Environment
4:14 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Pike County Miner Killed in Accident

A Pike County miner has died following an accident at the McCoy Elkhorn Coal Corporation's Mine No. 23 in Kimper. From the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing:

Preliminary reports indicate 33-year-old Farley Sargent was laying track when a rib roll occurred. A rib roll is when a portion of the coal pillar wall falls into the corridor.

Environment
12:22 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Ozone Levels Were Unhealthy Saturday, Sunday

Air pollution monitors in Louisville registered high levels of ozone this weekend, as predicted.

The area ranked a 114 on the Air Quality Scale--where anywhere from 101-150 indicates air that's unhealthy for sensitive groups. Ozone measured at 81 parts per billion--and the federal standard is 75 parts per billion.

So far, the metro area has exceeded ozone standards four times this summer.

Environment
10:33 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Study Finds Natural Gas Workers at Risk for Silicosis

There's not a lot of natural gas drilling in Kentucky, but nearby West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania have become hotbeds as the Marcellus Shale is tapped.

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Environment
7:16 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Reducing Idling Could Lead to Fewer Air Quality Alerts

So far this year, there have been ten days when air quality is forecasted to be bad in the Louisville area, and as the summer wears on there will be many more. The weather plays a big part in these days of unhealthy air, and pollution from industries contributes, too. But individual actions can also affect the air.

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Environment
3:25 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

Air Quality Alert Called For Saturday, Sunday

Louisville’s Air Pollution Control District has called an Air Quality Alert for this weekend.

The alerts this weekend are the ninth and tenth times this year the Air Pollution Control District has forecasted that ozone levels will be unhealthy for sensitive groups. But the alerts are forecasts—and the actual air quality has only been unhealthy twice so far.

District spokesman Tom Nord says a mix of pollution and weather contribute to the poor air.

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Environment
3:20 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Rubbertown Spill Releases 12 Pounds of Toxic Chemical into Air

UPDATE 3:15 pm: Zeon Chemical's release of 12 pounds of butadiene yesterday morning was accidental. Zeon Vice President of Operations Bob Barlow told me that a gasket leak caused the release. The reportable amount of butadiene is 10 pounds, so this was just over the reportable quantity.

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