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
2:41 pm
Wed April 25, 2012

LG&E Plans Dust Screen at Cane Run; Residents Skeptical

As complaints over coal ash near the Cane Run power plant continue, Louisville Gas and Electric has begun construction of a 50-foot tall dust screen which the company hopes will resolve neighborhood concerns about dust emissions.

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Environment
5:01 am
Wed April 25, 2012

Annual Air Quality Report Shows Louisville's Progress, But Pollution is Still a Problem

An annual report says Louisville’s air is better than it’s been in recent years. But the metro area’s air quality still ranks among the worst in the nation in two categories.

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Environment
5:27 pm
Tue April 24, 2012

Wendell Berry Stresses Relationship With the Land in National Lecture

Wendell Berry. By Photographer/original uploader: David Marshall/w:User:brtom1 [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
David Marshall Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky poet and farmer Wendell Berry used a national address this week to remind Americans of their connection to the land. As the country’s 41st Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities, he spoke to an audience in D.C. about corporate greed and called on Americans to return to the land.

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Environment
5:55 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

New Law Opens Loopholes for Nuclear Energy in Kentucky

On paper, Kentucky has a ban on nuclear power plants. That’s still the case. But a new law opens up new ways for nuclear energy to be used in the Commonwealth.

One of the things House Bill 559 allows is the re-enrichment of depleted uranium tails. But the legislation doesn’t go very far to help the one facility in the state that has been waiting for federal approval to re-enrich uranium tools.

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Environment
6:00 am
Mon December 5, 2011

Pike County Community Blames Devastating Floods on Lack of Reclamation

Janie Caudill holds a picture of her old shop, which was destroyed when flood waters devastated the area in July 2010.
Erica Peterson WFPL

Devastating floods have ravaged several eastern Kentucky communities in the last few years. Most start the same way: rain falls; creeks rise; and what residents have described as a ‘tsunami’ destroys everything in its path. Some citizens say coal mining is to blame, and they're turning to lawsuits against coal companies to recoup damages. They say the companies didn’t reclaim surface mine sites, which directly contributed to the flooding.

This is what some say happened in Pike County on July 17, 2010.

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Environment
9:00 am
Fri November 4, 2011

After Years of Keeping Rates Low, Coal Now Detrimental to Utility Costs

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

Coal-fired electricity is one of the reasons Kentucky’s utility rates are among the lowest in the nation. And as new pollution regulations take effect, coal is the reason Kentucky will be among the hardest hit states. Rate increases currently before the Public Service Commission are one sign of the changing tide.

In September, dozens of people showed up at a public meeting in Louisville to weigh in on proposed electricity rate increases. Most of them, like Rev. Milton Seymore, were against the higher rates.

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Environment
5:00 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

The Strange Life, Death and Reproductive Cycle of an Endangered Mussel

Biologists seed the mussels in the bed of the Green River.
Erica Peterson WFPL

Tigers, grizzly bears, sea turtles and humpback whales have long been mascots of endangered species. But then…there's the pink mucket, which once peppered river bottoms in Kentucky, but has been decimated by pollution.

Earlier this week, a team of scientists ventured into the Green River in an effort to reintroduce lab-grown pink muckets into their natural habitat.

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Environment
12:00 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Coal Ash Scares, Sickens Southwest Louisville Neighborhood

The smokestacks above Louisville Gas and Electric's Cane Run Power Station.
Erica Peterson WFPL

You can’t see the smokestacks of the Cane Run Power Station from Stephanie Hogan’s home, even though she lives a block away. And while the power plant isn’t visible, it’s still a looming presence in Hogan’s life.

“Oh, he breathes so bad, he sounds like Darth Vader.” Hogan shakes her head, and her two-year-old son Cody wheezes. “You ain’t even been running.”

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