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
4:40 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Report: Climate Change Effects are Already Felt in the Southeast U.S., and Will Worsen

A new report says climate change and variability is already affecting 11 southeastern states, including Kentucky, and it’s projected to worsen over the next two decades.

The report released by non-profit Climate Nexus represents the work of more than 100 scientists from various governmental and private organizations. It’s a comprehensive look at the effect climate change will have—and is already having—on the region.

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Environment
6:14 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Louisville's New Roots is Finalist for TEDx Manhattan

Volunteers at New Roots' Shawnee Fresh Stop this summer.
Erica Peterson WFPL News

A Louisville non-profit is competing with four others from around the nation to give a public TED-style talk in Manhattan next year.

There are five finalists in the TEDx Manhattan challenge. All are non-profits, and all deal with issues of food inequality and access to healthy foods. And whichever group wins the popular vote will deliver a talk in New York City next March.

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Environment
4:13 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

'Breathless and Burdened' Series Details Challenges Faced by Coal Miners Filing Black Lung Claims

A miner at the black lung laboratory in the Appalachian Regional Hospital in Beckley, West Virginia, is having his lung capacity tested to determine whether he has the disease in 1970.
Jack Corn Environmental Protection Agency

For coal miners who believe they have debilitating black lung disease, filing a claim is a lengthy process. It’s one that’s also often futile. Only about 14 percent of claims led to an award during the 2012 fiscal year, and after appeals, that number is likely even lower.

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Environment
4:16 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Coast Guard Considers Allowing Barges to Transport Wastewater From Natural Gas Fracking

Dirk Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Coast Guard is considering a proposal that would allow natural gas drilling companies to transport wastewater from the process via barge. If the rule is approved, it could send these hazardous materials down the Ohio River.

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Environment
5:00 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Kentucky Regulators Want Flexibility in Carbon Rules for Existing Power Plants

Erica Peterson WFPL

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions—like carbon dioxide –from existing power plants next June. But Kentucky regulators are preemptively trying to influence the agency’s decision-making.

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Environment
3:00 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

What's Next for Energy in Kentucky and Beyond? A Conversation with Consultant James Clad.

James Clad

James Clad has a lot of opinions on the global energy industry. These days, he’s an international political risk consultant for the energy industry. He’s also a senior advisor for the Center for Naval Analyses and at Jane’s Defence and Cambridge Energy Research Associates. From 2002-2010, he was the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia.

Clad was in Louisville last month to address the Louisville Committee on Foreign Relations.

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Environment
6:34 am
Fri November 1, 2013

In Black Carbon, Scientists Find a Major Source Behind Climate Change

Qannik, a polar bear at the Louisville Zoo.
Credit Kyle Shepherd/Louisville Zoo

Climate change is mainly caused by greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. And the gases mainly come from sources like power plants and vehicle emissions. But scientists have found another major threat to the climate: black carbon particles from wood fires, diesel engines and practically everything else that's burned.

Carbon dioxide has long been the villain behind climate change. That's still the case, but new research suggests CO2 has a sidekick—black carbon.

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Environment
6:43 am
Thu October 31, 2013

What Walks Through Louisville Reveal About Black Carbon Exposure

Interstate traffic in downtown Louisville.
Credit Creative Commons

In Louisville, a city bisected and ringed by interstate highways and in the midst of expanding its concrete infrastructure, it’s hard to get away from traffic pollution. Every day, cars and trucks belch out cocktails of gases and chemicals, such as arsenic, nitrogen dioxide and fine particles.

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Environment
4:24 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Report Says Most of the U.S.'s Coal Won't Be Profitable to Mine

Decumanus Wikimedia Commons

A new report says the amount of coal that’s economically recoverable in the United States has been vastly overblown. The report’s authors say public data shows that the supply has peaked in most of the country’s coal-producing states, including Kentucky.

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Environment
6:33 am
Wed October 30, 2013

What Louisville Neighborhoods Are Affected by Traffic Exhaust? All of Them.

The Glaabs: Geoff, Charlotte, Cailin and Crystal.
Credit Erica Peterson/WFPL News

Louisville has always struggled with air pollution—from industrial parks and from the traffic-clogged highways. But while Metro Government's network of air monitors tests the air around the city, it’s harder to tell what residents are actually exposed to in their homes.

In the Portland neighborhood, I-64 rumbles past rows of shotgun houses, many with siding made grimy by the traffic exhaust. The highway is loud and dirty, but its pollution isn’t the primary concern for many residents.

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