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
4:37 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

State Analysis Urges Energy Diversification... This Time, to Keep Coal in the Mix

Erica Peterson WFPL

A new analysis from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet finds that without policy changes, the commonwealth may be powered almost entirely by natural gas by the middle of the century.

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Environment
11:12 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Cane Run Power Plant Neighbors Sue LG&E Over Coal Ash

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

Several  of the residents living near the Cane Run Power Plant in Southwest Louisville filed a lawsuit on Monday against Louisville Gas & Electric and parent company PPL over persistent coal ash issues in the neighborhood.

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Environment
12:47 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Kentucky Democrats Join Effort Urging Obama to Include Coal in Nation's Energy Future

Harry Schaefer U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Several prominent Kentucky Democrats have signed a letter asking President Barack Obama to work to develop technologies that will allow coal to continue to play a prominent role in America's energy mix.

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Environment
1:59 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

More on the Data Behind the Decline in Kentucky's Coal Industry

Erica Peterson WFPL

Yesterday, WFPL aired a story about the long relationship Eastern Kentucky residents have had with the coal industry, and where coal’s decline leaves the region.

Read: Hollowed Mountains, Now Hollowed Towns: Coal in Eastern Kentucky.

Both the story and the various economic factors at play in Eastern Kentucky are complicated. But I wanted to call attention to one very important point: that even though there’s been a noticeable decline in the eastern coalfields over the past two years, there’s probably going to be an even greater decline in the demand for Eastern Kentucky coal over the next two years.

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Environment
6:55 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Hollowed Mountains, Now Hollowed Towns: Coal in Eastern Kentucky

A truck in Harlan, Ky., proclaims its support for coal and coal miners.
Credit Erica Peterson/WFPL News

HARLAN—People in Eastern Kentucky are used to the ups and downs of a coal-based economy. Prices plummet. Production slows down. Coal miners get laid off. Several months later, prices rise. The phone rings. Miners pick up their helmets and go back to work.

We're in one of those slumps now—but, this time, things are different. In the hardest-hit counties, the bumpers of heavy-duty Ford pickup trucks still host Friends of Coal license plates, next to stickers telling other drivers that coal keeps the lights on. But the winding mountain roads are a little quieter.

You can drive miles without seeing one of the lumbering coal trucks that, for years, carried away the region’s resources.

Coal is embedded into the culture and image of Eastern Kentucky, but the industry is declining in the region. And it's declining permanently. The coal miners—who've known coal through the generations—are being left behind.

Kentucky political leaders largely resort to finger-pointing and rhetoric. 

The coal miners, however, are left with few options but to adapt.

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Environment
12:23 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

East Coast to Kentucky (and Other States): 'We're Sick of Your Air Pollution'

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

The governors of eight Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states are tired of dealing with pollution from the Rust Belt and Appalachia. They’re calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to force tighter air pollution requirements on nine states, including Kentucky and Indiana.

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Environment
6:51 am
Mon December 9, 2013

JCPS Board Member: Frost Middle School's Proximity to Power Plant is Problematic

Erica Peterson WFPL

A JCPS school board member is voicing concern about a proposal that would move more grade levels into Frost Middle School, because of the school’s proximity to a coal-fired power plant. The school board is scheduled to vote on the change tonight.

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Environment
2:12 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Group Files Lawsuit Seeking Clarification on Eminent Domain for Bluegrass Pipeline

Opponents of the Bluegrass Pipeline rallied in Frankfort this summer.
Erica Peterson WFPL

A group of Kentuckians that opposes the use of eminent domain for a proposed natural gas liquids pipeline across Kentucky has filed a lawsuit, hoping to clarify the state’s laws.

Kentuckians United to Restrain Eminent Domain (KURE) filed the declaratory judgment action in Franklin County Circuit Court this afternoon. The group is asking the court to clarify whether the Bluegrass Pipeline—a project that build 500 miles of new pipeline across Kentucky and Ohio to carry natural gas liquids from gas fracking operations—could invoke eminent domain if landowners in the pipeline’s path refuse to grant easements.

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Environment
1:47 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Louisville Food Distributor Grasshoppers Will Close by Friday

Credit Vassil/Wikimedia Commons

Grasshoppers Distribution won’t exist after Friday, according to an email the local food distributor sent to its members.

Based in Louisville's Portland neighborhood, Grasshoppers was founded in 2007. As city officials have talked about growing the city’s local food movement, the company was often held up as a success story and a model for future local food infrastructure in Portland.

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Environment
12:52 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

U.S. Chamber Releases Ad Supporting McConnell, Citing Support for Coal

U.S. Senate

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has released a new ad supporting Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's re-election bid, citing McConnell's support for the coal industry.

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