smokestack

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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Environment
9:00 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Study Finds Dangerous Flame Retardants in Children's Furniture

Ninety percent of chairs marketed to children--like this one--were found to contain toxic flame retardants.
Flickr/Creative Commons

A new analysis of furniture made specifically for children has revealed that the majority of it contains toxic flame retardant chemicals.

The study was conducted by the non-profit Center for Environmental Health and researchers at Duke University. They analyzed 42 children’s couches and chairs from big box retailers, and found that 90 percent of them contain flame retardant chemicals that have been linked to serious health problems.

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Environment
6:46 am
Mon December 2, 2013

New Appalachian Fellowship Program Aims to Rebuild Region's Economy

Credit www.appfellows.org

A new fellowship program will begin next year, aiming to help communities in Central Appalachia rebuild their economies.

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Environment
2:07 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Officials Hope Clean Up at Homes Near Black Leaf Plant Will Be Finished by End of Year

A sign on the fence surrounding the former Black Leaf Chemical site in Louisville's Park Hill neighborhood.

State and federal crews are making progress cleaning up homes contaminated by the old Black Leaf Chemical plant in Louisville’s Park Hill neighborhood.

The Black Leaf plant was home to many companies during the 20th century, including several that produced pesticides. In 2011, high levels of heavy metals and pesticides were discovered in the site’s soil. Later, residential testing revealed the dangerous chemicals had migrated to nearby homes.

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Environment
3:31 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Swiss Chemist Wins Inaugural Conn Prize for Solar Cell Discovery

Michael Graetzel
University of Louisville

The University of Louisville has announced the winner of the first Leigh Ann Conn Prize for Renewable Energy. The award goes to Swiss chemist Michael Graetzel for his work developing a new kind of solar cell that’s easier and less expensive to produce than traditional silicon-based cells.

The Leigh Ann Conn Prize was announced last year.   It honors game-changing work in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

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