Local News

Coal Ash News Special [Audio]

On Thursday we spent an hour looking at Coal Ash — what it is, whether it’s dangerous, and how it’s regulated.

We spoke with John Voyles, Vice President of Transmission and Generation Services for LG&E; Tom Fitzgerald Founder and Director of the the Kentucky Resources Council; Tom Robl, Associate Director of Environmental and Coal Technologies at University of Kentucky; and Scott Slesinger, Legislative Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The show will be rebroadcast Thursday night at 9pm, or you can listen to it below.

Audio MP3
Environment Local News

Environmental Groups Announce Plans to Sue EPA Over Ozone Standards

Several environmental groups have announced they intend to sue the Environmental Protection Agency. They’re trying to force the agency to take action on ozone pollution.

The letter gives the EPA 60 days to take action, or else the groups will sue. They want the EPA to identify communities that have unsafe levels of ozone pollution, as they’re required to under the Clean Air Act.

John Walke is the director of air for the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the groups involved in the lawsuit.

“We are suing to make sure the Obama Administration does carry out the smog standards that were adopted in 2008 to ensure that clean up measures will be put in place,” he said.

Walke says there’s one way for the EPA to avoid being sued:

“At the end of that 60-day period the administration could have announced concrete steps and issued demands to the states to begin the process to clean up smog pollution,” he said.

But if they don’t, the groups will file a suit in federal court and try to get the EPA put on a court-enforced schedule to order pollution reductions.

The EPA missed a deadline in March to adopt National Ambient Air Quality standards as required under the 2008 Bush-era ozone rules. Last month, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the agency was abandoning a draft standard until at least 2013.

According to an EPA review of air quality data over the past three years, 52 metropolitan areas wouldn’t be able to meet the new standard. One of the areas on the list is the Cincinnati metro area, including parts of Northern Kentucky.

Environment Local News

New Emissions Standards Could Create Greener Auto Jobs in Kentucky

by Dan Conti, Kentucky Public Radio

A new report says environmental controls on vehicles could help Kentucky’s economy. The study, conducted by the United Autoworkers Union, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Wildlife Federation, found that stronger fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks will help create thousands of clean energy jobs in Kentucky and around the country.

Peter Lehner is Executive Director of the NRDC. He says the introduction of new technologies to help automakers achieve a standard of more than 54 miles per gallon by 2025 will grow jobs in places you’d expect—as well as in places you would’t. He says more than 155,000 people are already working in those areas.

Michigan and Ohio are the top employers, but thousands are also employed in North Carolina, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Georgia, Arizona, Texas and Alabama, as well as other states. This is an economic boon that is affecting the entire country.

In fact, Lehner says Kentucky is fifth in the U.S. for autoworkers employed in clean, efficient technologies. The report says just under 10,000 people in the commonwealth are at work on vehicle assembly, electric motors, batteries, wiring and power steering systems. The existing plants are in Georgetown, Harrodsburg, Edmonton and Morgantown.

Environment Local News

Kentucky Ranked High in List of 20 ‘Most Toxic’ States

Kentucky is among the states with the worst air quality, according to a report released this week.

The report was commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council, but used data self-reported by industries and publicly available on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. Kentucky ranked fourth in the list of the 20 ‘most toxic’ states.

Not only does Kentucky rank high on the list, but all of the commonwealth’s border states were also named as top polluters. John Walke is the director of the NRDC’s Clean Air Program.

“Unfortunately what this means is Kentucky residents are breathing higher levels of toxic air pollution, due not only to power plants in the state, but power plant toxic pollution in the surrounding states, including upwind states,” he said.

But Walke says he’s optimistic that air quality in Kentucky can improve.

“Of the ten dirtiest power plants in the state of Kentucky, we’ve found that three of them have either installed controls or are constructing pollution controls since this data was available to sharply reduce their toxic air pollution,” he said.

Seventy-seven percent of Kentucky’s air pollution came from power plants, and Walke says Kentuckians should see a difference after the Environmental Protection Agency’s new air pollution regulations go into effect

Environment Local News

New Nuclear for Kentucky?

A bill that would make it easier to build new nuclear power plants in Kentucky is making its way through the state legislature.  New plants have been banned in the Commonwealth since 1984, unless the federal government finds a way to permanently dispose of the waste.  Efforts to find such a place—like Yucca Mountain—have so far failed.  Nuclear Energy Institute spokesman Mitch Singer says another option could be reusing spent fuel rods.

“There definitely is an interest on the part of the federal government to look into what’s known as closing the fuel cycle, that is a fancy word for reprocessing and recycling.”

But environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council have testified before Congress that those technologies are still unattainable and haven’t worked as hoped in countries such as France and Russia.