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
9:16 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Report Analyzes Kentucky's Untapped Renewable Energy Potential

A new analysis of Kentucky’s energy potential shows renewable sources could provide more than a third of the state’s energy by 2025. It points to several renewable sources—including solar, hydro and biomass—that aren’t being tapped to their full potential.  

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Environment
3:23 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Judge Rules Eastern Kentucky Coal Company Illegally Fired Whistleblower

An Eastern Kentucky coal miner can return to work after a judge ruled he was unfairly fired from his job. The decision affirms the rights of coal miners to report unsafe working conditions without fear of retribution.

Charles Scott Howard was injured while working at a mine operated by Cumberland River Coal Company in Eastern Kentucky. The complaint alleges that even after he was cleared by doctors to return to work, the coal company took extreme steps to keep him from working.

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Environment
2:52 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

State Officials Report Water Contamination at Laurel County State Park

According to the Associated Press:

Officials at a state park in eastern Kentucky are restricting some activities like swimming and feeding the ducks because of water contamination.

The contamination at Levi Jackson State Park has killed several fish. According to John Williams of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, the fish kill was caused by excess nutrients in the water, like cow manure washing into streams.

The water’s oxygen levels are well below average and high temperatures and low water levels are complicating the problem.

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Environment
12:45 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

High Ozone Levels Forecasted Wednesday

The Louisville Air Pollution Control District has issued an Air Quality Alert for tomorrow. Levels of ozone are forecasted to be high, and the air will be unhealthy for sensitive groups. The district recommends the elderly, the young and those suffering from heart or lung diseases stay indoors, if possible.

This is the eighth Air Quality Alert so far this year.

Environment
6:15 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Ford Reports 22 Percent Energy Reduction Over Last Six Years

Ford Motor Company has reduced the energy used in its plants significantly, according to the company’s annual sustainability report.

The company says it reduced the amount of energy needed to produce each vehicle by 22 percent over the last six years. Spokeswoman Marcey Zwiebel says that’s due to conservation in several different departments—like new lighting and new paint booth technologies.

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Environment
5:42 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Study Finds Surface Miners Are at Risk of Black Lung Disease, Too

A new study shows that black lung disease isn’t limited to coal miners who work underground.

Studies for coal workers’ pneumoconiosis—or black lung disease—haven’t been done on surface miners in a decade, and the miners were commonly thought to be less at risk for the disease than underground workers. Surface mines are open to the air, after all, and underground coal mines have frequent dust issues caused by mining in constricted spaces without much ventilation.

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Environment
2:05 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Louisville-Area Ozone Levels Were Unhealthy Friday

The Air Pollution Control District has confirmed that Louisville’s air quality was poor on Friday, as predicted.

The District has issued seven Air Quality Alert days this year—but those are just days the agency expects the air quality will be poor. So far, only one of those has panned out—plus an additional day of bad air where there was no Air Quality Alert. During both days, the APCD’s air monitors recorded levels of ozone that exceeded healthy levels.

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Environment
8:30 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Team Will Begin Floyds Fork Interviews With Residents This Week

Researchers from the University of Kentucky will begin interviewing citizens, businesses and non-profits this week about Floyds Fork. This is part of a collaboration between state and federal agencies to rehabilitate the watershed.

Floyds Fork has been designated as “impaired,” which means its waterway can’t fulfill its designated functions. The state Division of Water has asked the EPA to help determine the maximum amount of pollution that can be discharged into the watershed without exceeding the state water quality standard.

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Environment
7:30 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Humane Society President Will Visit Louisville to Speak About Human, Animal Relationships

The president of the Humane Society of the United States will be in Louisville this week to discuss his new book: New York Times Bestseller “The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals and Our Call to Defend Them.”

The book is a study of human-animal relationships. Wayne Pacelle says humans are naturally drawn to and fascinated by animals—look at the number of people who have pets and who watch animals in the wild or at zoos.

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Environment
6:09 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Volunteers From Six States Expected to Participate in River Cleanup Tomorrow

Volunteers from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Illinois will gather along the banks of the Ohio River tomorrow for a concentrated effort to clean the river.

This is the 23rd annual Ohio River Sweep, and more than 15,000 volunteers from six states are expected to participate. The event is organized by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, and locally by the Metropolitan Sewer District.

There are six Louisville-area locations where volunteers will be gathering debris from the banks of the river from 9:00 a.m. to noon tomorrow. The sites are:

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