environment

From Trails to Exhibits, Parks Aim to Increase Accessibility

Jul 23, 2018
WKU Public Radio

David Allgood and Tom Stokes glide up a slight incline to the wooden platform overlooking the Green River at Mammoth Cave National Park. From there, they watch through a glass panel as the Kentucky park's lone ferry carries a Jeep across the water below.

The longtime friends turn their wheelchairs and roll toward the recently improved Echo River Spring Trail, which is wide enough for them to travel side-by-side. Accompanied by the gurgling water and chirping birds, they chat quietly about the trail and the thought that went into the view unobstructed by railings.

Updated at 6:01 p.m. ET

Scott Pruitt will no longer lead the Environmental Protection Agency, President Trump announced Thursday afternoon via Twitter.

"I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt," Trump tweeted. "Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this," Trump also wrote.

Erica Peterson

Coal-fired power plants in Kentucky continue closing even as the Trump Administration works through details on how to bail out the industry.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Monday he wasn’t ready to provide details of the plan, but even if it was implemented tomorrow, that wouldn’t stop Owensboro, Kentucky from shutting down its coal-fired power plant in 2020.

The city of Owensboro has generated much of its own electricity for more than 100 years, but that will change when the city closes Elmer Smith Station — a coal-fired power plant operating since 1964.

US Army Corps of Engineers Facebook

A Bowling Green microbrewery is teaming up with Western Kentucky University and two non-profit groups to celebrate conservation efforts in southern Kentucky. The White Squirrel brewery is releasing a new beer called the “Belle of the Green River”, which is made with water from the Green River.  

Lauren Hendricks is the chairwoman of the Forecastle Foundation, which works to conserve watersheds and restore the natural flow of waterways. The group supported efforts last year to remove Lock and Dam Number Six on the Green River in southern Kentucky. She said the foundation has already helped restore nearly 200 miles of the Green River by removing locks and dams.

Kimberly Shatney

Shortly after this story aired West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced that the state had secured federal funding needed to help Pine Grove finish a nearly $50,000 repair project for its failing sewer system.

According to a Thursday, May 31, news release from the governor’s office, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, confirmed final approval this week for a public assistance grant requested by Pine Grove. The $37,000 grant reflects a 75 percent cost share from FEMA. Pine Grove was among the communities included in a federal disaster declaration prompted by last summer’s flooding in north-central West Virginia.

Justice said a civil contingency fund under the governor’s control will provide the remaining 25 percent, or just over $12,000, for repairs at Pine Grove which include repairing units for dozens of individual property pump wells.


Brittany Patterson

On a recent chilly Tuesday morning, about 20 people filed along a winding dirt path leading deeper into West Virginia University’s Arboretum in Morgantown.

Armed with binoculars, smartphones and hiking boots, the group had one goal — spot and identify the chittering birds hidden in the trees above.

LeJay Graffious with the Mountaineer Audubon chapter led the bird walk.


WalletHub

A new study ranks Kentucky the third least environmentally-friendly state in the nation.

Vermont was ranked the most environmentally friendly, with West Virginia coming in last.

 

The WalletHub study compared states across three key factors--environmental quality, eco-friendly behaviors, and climate-change contributions. Kentucky ranked 48th overall, and last in the category of environmental quality.

Eastern Kentucky PRIDE

It turns out spring cleaning isn’t just for homes—it’s for entire regions of the commonwealth.

The non-profit group Eastern Kentucky PRIDE is holding its 20th annual Spring Cleanup during the month of April.

An estimated 25,000-30,000 volunteers across 42 counties in eastern and southern Kentucky will clean up trash near homes, businesses, parks, and roadways.

The Interior Department is abandoning a plan to more than double entrance fees to some of the country's most popular national parks, opting instead to apply a "modest" fee increase to 117 parks beginning this summer in an effort to raise funds for park maintenance.

The announcement Thursday comes after an outcry from the public and from lawmakers, who were concerned that certain large increases that were initially proposed would price people out of the nation's parks.

Angel's Envy

The Kentucky whiskey distiller Angel’s Envy is planting more than 12,000 trees in the Daniel Boone National Forest. The move is part of the company’s sustainability program.

In September of last year Angel’s Envy fans shared photos on social media with #AE4THETREES. The company counted more than 12,000 photos and posts with the hashtag, so they’re planting a tree for almost every post. Kyle Henderson is the production manager at the Louisville-based Angel’s Envy. He said it means a lot to him to be part of the sustainability effort.

The Trump Administration today moved to weaken fuel economy standards for automobiles, saying the current ones are inappropriate and wrong.

The long-anticipated move is a win for auto manufacturers, which had lobbied for lower fuel-economy standards. It's also a rejection of one of former President Barack Obama's biggest efforts to combat climate change by curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Gray Watson/Creative Commons

Kentucky solar advocates want state regulators to consider the benefits of residential solar, but they say that won’t happen under the latest version of a net metering bill under consideration in the state General Assembly.

Last week, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a revised version of House Bill 227, which would allow state regulators to set the rates for the solar power that customers feed back into the electricity grid.

Vectren

The Evansville energy company that serves 145,000 customers in southwestern Indiana has released a transition plan that phases out most coal-fired power and replaces it with natural gas and solar.

Vectren says its plan will reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent by retiring three coal-fired plants and retrofitting one remaining coal unit so it's in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

Erica Peterson

Three lawmakers have been added to a committee that has been considering a controversial bill that would scale back how much households with solar panels are reimbursed for producing excess energy for the electrical grid.

The move might help extend the life of the legislation, which has had trouble passing out of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

Tom Fitzgerald, an environmental activist and attorney with the Kentucky Resources Council, called the move “highly unusual.”

Creative Commons

State lawmakers are once again considering a bill that would scale back how much homeowners with solar panels get reimbursed for putting energy back into the electrical grid, though the legislation has stalled for the time-being.

Electric utilities are required to give Kentucky households credits that can be used on future power bills for generating excess energy. Currently those credits are equal to retail price of energy, but under House Bill 277, the credits would be reduced to the wholesale price of energy.

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