environment

TVA Votes to Close Coal-Fired Power Plant in Kentucky

Feb 14, 2019
Becca Schimmel

A federal utility board voted Thursday to close a coal-fired power plant in Kentucky, despite objections from President Donald Trump and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a move the board says will save its more than 10 million customers $320 million.

The Tennessee Valley Authority voted to retire the remaining coal-fired unit at the Paradise Fossil Plant along the Green River in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. The decision could put 131 people out of work and could affect an additional 135 people who work in nearby coal mines that supply the plant.

In his latest effort to boost the coal business — and in the process help a major supporter — President Trump has called on the Tennessee Valley Authority to, essentially, ignore the advice of its staff and keep a large coal-fired power plant operating.

The move has drawn extra scrutiny because that plant buys coal from a company headed by a large campaign donor to Trump, Murray Energy Corp. Chairman, President and CEO Robert Murray.

Ryan Hagerty, USFWS

An invasive carp species with human-like molars is threatening Kentucky’s endangered freshwater mussels.

Last week, officials with Kentucky’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources discovered the second location in the country where black carp seem to be naturally reproducing, according to a press release.

Fisheries Biologist Andrew Stump said state employees found a juvenile specimen in Ballard County in Western Kentucky. The black carp was under an inch long and found in a small stream, two signs of natural reproduction.

Becca Schimmel, Ohio Valley Resource

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin says closing the last coal-fired unit at the Paradise Fossil Plant in Muhlenberg County would be a "huge mistake."  Bevin outlined his concerns this month in a letter to the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The TVA is considering closing the last remaining coal-powered unit after an environmental assessment projected it to have high future maintenance and environmental compliance costs.

The Paradise power plant in Drakesboro has been in operation since 1970.  Units 1 and 2 were replaced with natural gas generation in 2017.

wikimedia commons

A new study from the University of Louisville has found links between the amount of nature you’re surrounded with and your overall health. Findings indicate that people who live in more densely vegetated areas have lower levels of stress and better cardiovascular health.

Kentucky Public Radio spoke with one of the study’s authors, Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar.

Division of Waste Management

The coal used to power our homes leaves behind mountains of ash. At one power plant in Western Kentucky, that coal ash is stored in a pair of unlined landfills that may have been polluting local groundwater for as long as 18 years.

Evidence from satellite images, state inspections and the utility’s own groundwater monitoring reports reveal mountains of ash slowly leaching pollution into the nearby environment at the D.B. Wilson Power Plant, about 40 minutes south of Owensboro.

Brittany Patterson | Ohio Valley ReSource

Jennie and Brian Kahly decided to move to a 150-acre family farm in West Virginia’s Preston County, they thought a lot about what type of farmers they wanted to be.

“We went ahead and made a list of values, and one of those values was to minimize our fossil fuel use,” Jennie said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t use fossil fuels. It means we make a conscious effort to minimize them.”

Installing solar panels was high on their wish list. After two years of planning, this fall Possum Tail Farm began running on sunshine.

Ryan Van Velzer

Officials with the U.S. Department of Energy paid a visit to Mt. Washington Elementary in Bullitt County on Tuesday to recognize the district for its energy efficiency improvements.

In a little more than a decade, the Bullitt County Public School District has reduced energy use in schools by about 30 percent, which amounts to about $6 million in savings across 27 buildings.

The district, which serves more than 13,000 students, is a partner in the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, a program that encourages energy efficiency.


Kroger To Phase Out Plastic Bags Nationwide By 2025

Aug 24, 2018
J. Tyler Franklin

Kroger says it will phase out single-use plastic bags nationwide by 2025.

The move is part of The Kroger Company’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste commitment, the company announced Thursday in a news release. The initiative, according to Kroger’s website, is to “end hunger in our communities and eliminate waste in our company by 2025.”

Instead of plastic bags, the grocery chain plans to transition to reusable bags to decrease plastic waste.

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.


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