Rhonda J. Miller

A manufacturer of recycled plastic products in Evansville, Indiana is experiencing a surge in business due, in part, to China halting the import of plastic trash last year. Green Tree Plastics is now expanding partnerships with major corporations.

The family-owned company is also meeting the growing demand from student groups to produce benches and picnic tables from what most Americans have been sending to landfills -  plastic bottle caps.

The playground at Holy Name Catholic School in Henderson, Kentucky has a couple of special benches. They’re made from recycled plastic caps and lids, from water bottles, milk jugs, yogurt cups, toothpaste, coffee cans, peanut butter, and lots of other containers.

Meet the Little Green Clover That Beat the Odds

Sep 9, 2019
Glynis Board

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is moving to take a rare species of plant found in the Ohio Valley off of the endangered species list. Amid controversial proposals to change the law protecting rare species, the Running Buffalo Clover is an example of a successful recovery. It would join about 2.5 percent of threatened and endangered species (42 species) that have been taken off the list, or delisted, due to recovery. There are still 1,663  U.S. plants and animals on the endangered species list.

Blue-Green Algae Advisories At 10 Indiana Lakes

Aug 14, 2019
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

High levels of blue-green algae are currently triggering recreational alerts at 10 lakes in Indiana this summer, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

The algae has rarely been toxic to humans in Indiana, but even small amounts of the toxins can be dangerous for pets, said Cyndi Wagner with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

“Even in those small amounts, if a dog drinks enough of the water they could succumb to the effects of the toxin and the toxins — there are four different ones — some of them are neurotoxins and some of them are liver toxins,” Wagner said.

Caitlin McGlade

The Loch Mary Reservoir holds enough water to fill about 715 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

All that stands between that wall of water and Annette Rudolph’s Earlington, Kentucky neighborhood is a 95-year-old earthen dam, deteriorating and seeping water.

Rudolph, 70, has lived in the neighborhood she calls “The Bottom” all her life, and floods are routine there. State inspectors have told the dam’s owner, the city of Earlington, that heavy rain could overtop it — “threatening the safety of the residents downstream,” according to a 2018 inspection report.


Kentucky’s temperate climate is an ideal habitat for a new invasive tick species that clusters on livestock, reproduces without mating and remains a potential vector for disease.

The Asian longhorned tick is the first new tick species detected in the United States in the last several decades and its range is growing rapidly.


Something strange is happening to Pengyin Chen's soybean experiments at the University of Missouri's Fisher Delta Research Center in Portageville, Mo.

"You see how small they are?" says Chen, gesturing at a field filled with thousands of small plots of soybeans.

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet

As nearly 10,000 people descended on the small town of Owenton, Kentucky, for the annual county fair earlier this month, so too did the miles-long bourbon plume leftover from the fire at the Jim Beam warehouse upriver from the drinking water supply.

In the wake of the bourbon spill, thousands of fish died as dissolved oxygen levels plummeted in the Kentucky River.

But when Owen County residents turned on their taps, nothing but cool clean water came out.

Study: Kentucky’s Heat Index On The Rise

Jul 17, 2019
Liz Schlemmer

The number of sweltering summer days will only increase as climate change takes its toll on Kentucky, according to a study released Tuesday.

To understand just what the mercury rising might feel like, researchers from the Union of Concerned Scientists analyzed a century’s worth of data for temperatures and humidity to create a heat index, or, the “feels like” temperature often described in weather forecasts.


Bourbon Plume Reaches Louisville’s Drinking Water

Jul 10, 2019
Ashlie Stevens/WFPL

The bourbon plume from last week’s Jim Beam warehouse fire has floated to Louisville’s drinking water intake in the Ohio River.

The Louisville Water Company says the city’s drinking water supply is safe, but the utility has adjusted its treatment strategy to protect the taste of the water and absorb any lingering odors.

“So Louisville Water has added a little bit of extra carbon to our water. Customers will not notice a difference at all,” said spokeswoman Kelley Dearing Smith.

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet

A massive slug of Jim Beam bourbon from last week’s warehouse fire entered the Ohio River on Monday after traveling more than 20 miles down the Kentucky River, according to the latest from Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet.

The plume is expected to hug the shoreline and dilute as it enters the Ohio River where it could continue to pose a limited threat to fish and other aquatic life, said John Mura, cabinet spokesman.

“The plume, which is about 23 miles long, entered the Ohio River very early this morning and began dissipating,” Mura said.


Louisville Gas & Electric plans to begin suing landowners who refuse to sell their property for the construction of an underground natural gas pipeline through northern Bullitt County.

The utility will begin filing condemnation proceedings in an effort to purchase the remaining 15 percent of land needed to begin construction, according to a Wednesday press release.

LG&E says it’s run out of capacity on the current gas pipeline and needs to build a second 12-mile-long pipeline in order to keep up with growth in the area around Mt. Washington, Shepherdsville, Clermont and Lebanon Junction.

Ryan Van Velzer

Kentucky will have three years to devise plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants under the Trump Administration’s finalized Affordable Clean Energy rule.

The effectiveness of the rule has been called into question by environmentalists and at least one former Obama administration official while Kentucky’s own Department of Environmental Protection says it will reduce carbon emissions and provide regulatory certainty.

The so-called ACE rule will require state officials to conduct a unit-by-unit review of coal-fired electric generating units. The analysis will look at ways to improve efficiency at coal plants and set a limit on the amount of emissions they can produce, said Sean Alteri, Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection deputy commissioner.


The stripes kind of look like those old packs of Fruit Stripe bubble gum. Each stripe represents a year. The colors, shaded from cool navy to scarlet, indicate annual average temperatures.

Together, the stripes reveal patterns of warming trends across the globe over the last 100-plus years.

Climate Scientist Ed Hawkins created the graphics to start conversations about the warming world and the risks climate change poses in different regions.

Ryan Van Velzer

A green darner dragonfly buzzes over the waters emanating from the base of the knobs in the Cedar Grove wildlife corridor.

Above the spring, a millipede trudges over a mossy log teeming with mushrooms. A few feet away, in the loamy soil of the hillside, Bernheim Arboretum’s Conservation Director Andrew Berry points to the spot where they found a rare cave snail.

Then he dips his fingers into the creek.

“This water is coming out of an aquifer. You can feel it and feel how cold it is,” Berry said.

WFPL news

One of the oldest federally-recognized hazardous waste sites is right here in Louisville. And more than 20 years after the government declared it was no longer a top priority, the site is still contaminating groundwater flowing into the Ohio River, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Lees Lane Landfill began its long, sordid life as a sand and gravel quarry in southwest Louisville. Somewhere around 1948, owners got the idea to fill that big, gaping hole with other people’s trash and industrial waste — about 200,000 tons worth.