environment

Peabody Energy, Inc., via Wikimedia Commons

A federal bankruptcy judge has denied a petition from former Blackjewel coal executive Jeff Hoops to liquidate the company. The decision means the reorganization of the company will continue under Chapter 11 bankruptcy as former employees, creditors and state agencies seek to recover millions owed by the company.

Hoops cited “permanent negative cash flow” at his former company, which has accrued at least $80 million in administrative and other expenses since its bankruptcy filing on July 1 last year. 

The nearly 3,000-filing-long Blackjewel bankruptcy docket demonstrates an 18-month scramble by the company’s creditors to recuperate as much money as possible from a too-small pot.

WFPL

Kentucky is set to receive about $10 million in federal funds from the Great American Outdoors Act and the Land and Water Conservation Fund for improvements on and the expansion of public lands.  

The funds will help pay for a new roof on the Mammoth Cave Hotel. They’ll also be used to acquire a civil war battle site and lands for wildlife conservation and recreation in the Cumberland Plateau and along the Green River. 

“We continue to make progress to deliver on the purpose of this historic conservation legislation,” said said Margaret Everson, Chair of the Great American Outdoors Act Task Force in a press release. “We carefully evaluated each deferred maintenance project and land acquisition to maximize the return on investment for the American people and deliver on the promises of this unprecedented opportunity.”

Kentuckians Finding COVID Safe Places in Nature

Nov 16, 2020
Land Between the Lakes

Nature is receiving a boost during the COVID-19 pandemic. With more people confined to their homes and avoiding large crowds, the backyard is taking on new significance.

"A few simple steps can transform your space into a wildlife refuge, " said John Pollpeter, the lead naturalist with Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky. "Things like food, water, shelter, space are the four different things you need ot kind of consider, but one thing people can do is to leave a little space in your backyard, a little corner and maybe leave it a little wild, let it grow up a little bit and leave some...old logs, maybe an old tree, as long as it's safe, many animals can utilize that for their habitat."


Erica Peterson

Environmental and community advocates in Appalachian coal communities are concerned about a new federal rule, finalized this week, that is changing the process that allows citizens to file complaints about polluting coal mining operations.

The Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement said in a Tuesday press release that the changes to the 10-Day Notice policy would “streamline” the complaint process. 

Under federal law and agency regulations, anyone can notify the agency about alleged mining violations. Under the original rule, the agency would share the complaint with state regulators. That kicked off a 10-day clock for the state to take action, either by forcing the company to fix the problem, or showing why action wasn’t necessary.

Ned Pillersdorf

Environmental advocates worry a coal company liquidation plan will leave dozens of coal permits in eastern Kentucky unreclaimed, according to filings in the bankruptcy proceedings of Blackjewel L.L.C.

The bankruptcy case has dragged on since last July, when the once-mighty coal company’s Chapter 11 filing left hundreds of Appalachian coal miners suddenly without work, and without weeks of pay. Now the company has until the end of 2020 to exit bankruptcy, and to do that, it needs the court to approve the very liquidation plan that has environmentalists concerned.

Benny Becker

Ohio environmental regulators have canceled key permits needed for an underground natural gas liquids storage facility proposed along the Ohio River. 

According to an order from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, permits to drill three three Class III solution mining wells in Monroe County, Ohio were cancelled on Sept. 21. Cancellation was requested by Powhatan Salt Company LCC. The proposed wells are associated with the Mountaineer NGL Storage project, a multi-million dollar underground natural gas liquids storage project. 

Experts say natural gas liquid storage — like the proposed Mountaineer project — is crucial to building out the Ohio Valley’s petrochemical industry.

J. Tyler Franklin

As the nation decides which party will control the Senate this November, the race in Kentucky stands out for one big reason: It features Mitch McConnell.

Loathed by Democrats across the country as a cynical power broker, but praised by Republicans as a shrewd political tactician, the GOP’s longest-serving Senate majority leader faces a challenge from a well-funded retired Marine lieutenant colonel and fighter pilot who flew in 89 combat missions, including bombings of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

DNC video

Democrats made their pitch to the American people during a largely virtual Democratic National Convention and addressing climate change emerged as a central tenet of the party’s plan. 

The party platform spells out a major investment in green energy jobs and infrastructure in order for America to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emission no later than by 2050. Environmental justice is a key component of the Democrat’s climate plan and it references ensuring fossil fuel workers and communities receive investment and support during this clean energy transition.

 


Jeff Young

A proposal to repurpose a docking facility near Marietta, Ohio, to allow for the barging of oil and gas drilling waste on the Ohio River is drawing concern from environmental groups and local residents.

Ohio-based DeepRock Disposal Solutions LLC is seeking approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Huntington District to operate a barge offloading facility to transfer the waste to existing storage tanks. The proposal indicates the loading facility can accommodate a 300-foot-long barge that is 54 feet wide. 

It is the third barging proposal this year being considered by federal regulators. A proposal near Martins Ferry, Ohio, and one near Portland, Ohio, both to build new barging loading facilities have already been approved.

Brittany Patterson | Ohio Valley ReSource

On a recent sticky July afternoon, Diana Green stands on the muddy bank of lower Davis Creek in South Charleston, West Virginia.  

As a child, she enjoyed wading in the nearly 10-mile-long stream in search of crayfish and salamanders. As an adult, Green set down roots there, purchasing a farm that backs up to the creek. Seeing the waterway choked with trash and pollution, Green helped form a small community-based watershed group in the 1990s.

The Davis Creek Watershed Association has been dedicated to improving the environmental quality of the watershed, and 25 years later, she says they have largely succeeded. Several different fish species, from skipjack to bass live in the stream. 

 


Pulaski County Recycling Center

Recycling in the U.S. has become more difficult since China stopped accepting plastic in 2018.

Counties and cities across Kentucky are choosing differing ways to handle, or not handle, the recycling of plastic, cardboard, paper, glass, and aluminum and metal cans.

The scarcity of markets for recycled plastic and the cost of recycling overall add to the obstacles for communites, at the same time landfills continue to run out of space, and changes in packaging by manufacturers, which would reduce waste, move along at a slow pace.  The challenges to recycling have mulitpled with the COVID-19 pandemic.


Southern Recycling

Warren County residents can drop off recyclables for the next few weeks even though curbside pickup has stopped.

It’s only a temporary way to recycle paper, plastic, cardboard, glass, aluminum cans and tin cans for Warren County residents.

But for those who have had their recycling habits in limbo since curbside pickup stopped on March 31, Southern Recycling is accepting those materials at its Warren County location on Graham Drive. 

To make it easy to find, the company has put up green signs at the intersection of Louisville Road and Plum Springs Road pointing people to the recycling site. 

Customers will be responsible for sorting the materials and putting them in designated bins. 


Kentucky Heartwood

The U.S. Forest Service has marked and illegally sold thousands of trees in excess of its own plans for the Daniel Boone National Forest, according to a survey from the Kentucky Heartwood forest advocacy organization.

You know that old saying about a tree falling in the forest? Kentucky Heartwood Director Jim Scheff may not hear it fall, but he can tell you which one is marked for felling.

It’s not because Scheff did his graduate research on forest and old growth ecology in the Daniel Boone National Forest in southeastern Kentucky (He did). It’s because you don’t need a master’s degree to see the blue spray paint.

 


Since the coronavirus hit the U.S., coal mines across the country have begun shutting down, laying off workers and slowing production.

Ryan Van Velzer

The first Earth Day was 50 years ago today, April 22, 1970. Marking the anniversary and celebrating the planet present unique challenges for people around the globe while social distancing in the middle of a pandemic. But some young activists in Kentucky believe they’ve found a way, through technology.

Organizers at Kentucky Youth Climate Strike are calling on their peers to join in a week of digital action to combat Climate Change and the coronavirus.

“I think both crises that we’re seeing, of COVID-19 and the climate crisis, create a unique opportunity for a regained sense of shared humanity, where people realize what matters most,” said Kentucky Youth Climate Strike State Director Fernanda Scharfenberger.

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