Erica Peterson (KPR)

Kentucky Public Radio Correspondent

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


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.

Environmental Protection Agency Seal by DonkeyHotey flickr (creative commons)

  In the final weeks of Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration, state regulators and legislators haven’t closed the door on the possibility that Kentucky will create its own plan to comply with upcoming federal carbon dioxide regulations. / Flickr (Creative Commons License)

This is the second story in a two-part investigation. The first story can be found here.

Rick Handshoe used to dream about building a house on his 50-some acres of property in Floyd County. He put a trailer there and raised his daughter. He planted an apple orchard and a garden. For years, he’d stand on the banks of the two small streams that met on his Eastern Kentucky land and catch crawdads and minnows.

Mike Bender/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wikimedia Commons

  The Humane Society is calling on Governor Steve Beshear to immediately stop the state’s black bear hunt, after the quota during the first archery portion of the season was exceeded.


A barge that teaches students about river ecosystems is beginning its fall tour in Louisville this week.

Another of Kentucky’s coal-fired power units will be shut down in the next few years, further reducing the state’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Owensboro Municipal Utilities announced last week that it plans to shut down Unit 1 of the Elmer Smith Power Plant sometime between 2019 and 2021.

ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and the Image Science & Analysis Group, Johnson Space Center / National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Kentucky state regulators are warning people to avoid recreational contact with the Ohio River from the West Virginia border, past Louisville all the way to the Cannelton Locks and Dam in Hancock County. Over the past two weeks, a harmful algal bloom has spread, releasing toxins into the water.

  Residents offered their two-minute takes in Lexington Thursday on a thousand-page federal coal mining regulation that’s been years in the making.