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
9:00 am
Tue June 5, 2012

EPA Hearings on 36 Kentucky Mining Permits Begin Today

The Environmental Protection Agency is in Frankfort today for a hearing on mining permits.

The agency is here to take public comments on 36 specific water permits—which coal mines need in order to discharge waste into streams and other waterways. The EPA has objected to all of the permits, saying the Kentucky Division of Water didn’t provide a complete analysis of the potential damage the discharge could cause.

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Environment
6:03 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

Experts Say Beavers No Threat to St. Matthews Park

The beaver lodge in Draut Park.
Erica Peterson WFPL

The City of St. Matthews is struggling with how to deal with beavers that have made their home in a local park.

Ian Timothy is seventeen years old. He’s been coming to Draut Park—a small park behind Mall St. Matthews—for four years, watching the family of beavers. They’ve built a dam and lodge near a culvert.

He points to the lodge. “It kind of just looks like a pile of sticks, but they’re living in the lodge.”

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Environment
3:34 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

Speaker to Address Louisville's Rising Temperatures—and How to Fix the Problem

Tree lined 4th Street in Old Louisville.
Census Data Wikimedia Commons

Louisville has been growing warmer. In a list of the nation’s fifty largest cities monitored by professors at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Louisville’s core is warming at faster rates than the surrounding areas—and it’s doing so faster than any other large city in the country.

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Environment
6:14 am
Mon June 4, 2012

EPA to Hold Hearings This Week on Mining Permits

The Environmental Protection Agency is in Kentucky this week for two hearings on mining permits.

The state’s Division of Water issues permits to coal mines to discharge into waterways, but the EPA has the authority to review the permits. Over the past two years, the EPA has objected to 36 Kentucky permits.

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Environment
4:34 pm
Fri June 1, 2012

West Virginia State Senator Says Mining-Related Accident Shows Need for More Mining

The House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing today on coal mining and the Environmental Protection Agency’s veto of the Spruce Mine in West Virginia. I didn’t cover the hearing, but Ken Ward of the Charleston (WV) Gazette did. He pointed out some peculiar testimony from West Virginia State Senator Art Kirkendoll.

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Environment
2:30 pm
Fri June 1, 2012

Annual Creek Sweep Aims to Clean Floyds Fork

The 21st annual Floyds Fork Creek Sweep is tomorrow. Volunteers will boat down the river and climb along its banks picking up trash, in an effort to keep the waterway clean.

Teena Halbig is the co-president of the Floyds Fork Environmental Association. She says the annual cleanup is necessary.

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Environment
12:55 pm
Fri June 1, 2012

Victims of 2010 Pike County Flood File Lawsuit Against State

Harless Creek resident Janie Caudill holds a picture of her home after flood waters washed it away in July 2010.
Erica Peterson WFPL

Residents in Eastern Kentucky whose homes were flooded in 2010 have filed suit against the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet. They say the flooding was caused by an unreclaimed surface mine site, and the state allowed the mine operator to violate the law.

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Environment
5:56 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

Judge Orders EPA to Set Particle Pollution Standards

A federal judge has given the Environmental Protection Agency one week to set standards for fine particle pollution across the United States. These are the fine particles that come out of factories, power plants and automobiles.

Paul Cort is an attorney for nonprofit Earthjustice. He argued the case.

“This rule defines what it means to have clean air that’s safe to breathe,” Cort said. “And so by setting these standards, if an area has air that doesn’t meet these standards, then they have to develop a plan to reduce emissions that contribute to the pollution problem.”

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Environment
2:38 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

State Grants AEP Request to Withdraw Big Sandy Application

By Flickr user CM195902: http://bit.ly/KhOtGU

The Kentucky Public Service Commission has granted a request by American Electric Power to withdraw a pending application to retrofit the company's Big Sandy Power Plant in Lawrence County.

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Environment
6:00 pm
Wed May 30, 2012

Lawsuit Alleges Damages From "Whiskey Fungus"

The fungus is visible on Heaven Hill's Bardstown distillery
Shadle Wikimedia Commons

A lawsuit filed today in federal court alleges a black substance coating the homes of residents in some areas of Louisville is caused by whiskey distilling.

Attorney Bill McMurray says for years, residents have seen a black substance growing on metal surfaces, and it’s nearly impossible to remove.

“And it’s only recently been understood within the last couple of years what the actual cause for that blackening is, and it’s this particular fungus,” he said.

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