Erica Peterson (KPR)

Kentucky Public Radio Correspondent

Erica Peterson is a reporter and Kentucky Public Radio correspondent based out of WFPL in Louisville, Kentucky.

NRDC

The massive omnibus spending bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last week is more than 2,000 pages long and lays out the next year of government spending.

And it also contains some unexpected Christmas presents for the hard-hit coalfields of Appalachia.

NRDC

The new head of the state’s Energy and Environment Cabinet, Charles Snavely, has been on the job for a little more than a week. It’s also been about that long since he served as an official on the state’s coal association governing board.

Petr Kratochvil, publicdomainpictures.net

bill pre-filed in the General Assembly would declare Kentucky a “sanctuary state” for people and companies who don’t want to follow federal environmental laws that will restrict carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Jim Gooch, a Democrat from Providence in Western Kentucky. 

Erica Peterson | wfpl.org

Across the Atlantic Ocean, governments and businesses are taking big steps toward renewable energy. Their transition could provide lessons for Kentucky.

This is the fourth in a five-part series. Read the others here.

In the middle of the industrial German city of Essen, there’s a wall surrounding a property bigger than 100 soccer fields. This is Zollverein: two former coal mines and a coking plant, which is used to turn coal to coke for steelmaking. I’m here to see how a former coal complex has been reinvented over the past two decades into something that’s a genuine tourist attraction.

Erica Peterson | wfpl.org

Across the Atlantic Ocean, governments and businesses are taking big steps toward renewable energy. Their transition could provide lessons for Kentucky.

This is the third in a five-part series. Read the others here.

For 900 years, ships and goods have been unloaded in Hamburg, Germany’s second-biggest city and an industrial center. On a fall day, tourists stroll along the Landungsbrücken, or floating dock, watching the boats come and go.

Like in Kentucky, manufacturers in Hamburg need to know that they’ll have a large and constant supply of affordable electricity. And two very different power plants in Hamburg show the tension in Germany’s energy market.

Erica Peterson | wfpl.org

Across the Atlantic Ocean, governments and businesses are taking big steps toward renewable energy. Their transition could provide lessons for Kentucky.

This is the second in a five-part series. Read the others here.

In Western Germany, only a 45-minute drive from the tourists milling around the iconic cathedral in Cologne, miners work in three immense lignite coal mines. Machines rumble, digging the soft, brown coal out of the ground and placing it on conveyor belts.

Erica Peterson | wfpl.org

 Across the Atlantic Ocean, governments and businesses are taking big steps toward renewable energy. Their transition could provide lessons for Kentucky.

This is the first in a five-part series.

WFPL

Like other Appalachian states, Kentucky’s coal and utility industry is in a period of transition. Environmental regulations, declining reserves and market conditions are making coal more expensive to mine and burn. Over the past six years, the number of coal miners in the eastern part of the state has been cut in half. Several of Kentucky’s large, aging coal-fired power plants have announced their plans to retire or switch to natural gas.

Across an ocean, in Germany, is a coal-producing country also undergoing a transition. 

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet

Len Peters, secretary of the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, will step down from his post next week, as Gov. Steve Beshear leaves office.

Wikimedia Commons/Author: PixOnTrax

There is still a lot of coal in the ground in Kentucky, though it’s looking increasingly unlikely that most of it will be mined and burned.

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